Pa. state board fires 3 who oversaw cop killer case
The employees were fired because of the manner in which the suspect was supervised
By Allison Steele
The Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA — The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole fired three employees Friday who oversaw the case of Rafael Jones, the man accused of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker Jr. in August.
The board declined to name the employees, but multiple sources identified them as Juan Rodriguez, Jones' parole agent, and Rodriguez's supervisors, Michelle Rivera and Rosa Hernandez.
"These employees were terminated due to violations of board procedures, the board's code of conduct, and shortcomings in the manner in which Jones was supervised," Board Chairman Michael C. Potteiger said in a statement.
Rodriguez, Rivera, and Hernandez did not return phone calls or requests for comment.
The board also announced several changes as a result of an internal review of the Jones case.
In the future, the board said, sentencing judges should be made aware when certain offenders have been denied parole and are approaching their maximum sentences.
Additionally, the board said it was pursuing the use of GPS as a replacement for the current electronic monitoring system, which requires a landline.
Walker, 40, was shot Aug. 18 as he walked to a bus stop in street clothes after finishing an overnight shift at the North Philadelphia-based 22d District.
Jones, 23, who has a criminal record that stretches back more than 10 years, was released from prison 10 days before he allegedly gunned down Walker in a botched robbery attempt.
Jones had served four years in prison on a gun charge, and under the conditions of his probation, he was to be subject to house arrest, electronic monitoring, and drug screenings.
A Common Pleas Court judge had ordered that Jones be jailed if he tested positive for drugs even once. But when Jones failed a drug screening on Aug. 10 - he claimed it was from pot he smoked in prison - he was allowed to remain free.
Multiple law enforcement sources said Rodriguez, Jones' agent, requested that Jones be arrested after the drug screening, but that his request was denied by his supervisors, who told him the matter would be addressed later. Additionally, his electronic monitoring was never set up.
Several parole agents and others familiar with the case on Friday said they did not believe Rodriguez should have been fired.
"He did everything he was supposed to do," said one agent, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal. "He followed the rules, and he's being blamed for the actions of his supervisors."
Last month, Walker's family sued the board, saying a "systemic breakdown" caused Walker's death. The suit also accused the board of enforcing an unwritten policy to limit parole and probation arrests to create the appearance of lower recidivism rates.
Michael Barrett, one of the attorneys who filed the suit, said he was pleased by the board's action.
"However, this action is too late for Moses Walker Jr. and his family," he said.
Copyright 2012 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC