U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
(717) 221-4482
December 17, 2014

Federal Inmate Charged in Connection with an Assault of Another Inmate

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that the Federal Grand Jury in Scranton has returned a three-count indictment charging an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan, Pennsylvania, with participating in an assault of another inmate with dangerous weapons. James Banks, age 33, formerly of Tennessee, was charged with assault, conspiracy to commit assault, and with the illegal possession of a weapon by an inmate.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the victim was another inmate who was stabbed by Banks’ coconspirator with a sharpened weapon commonly referred to as a shank. Banks allegedly participated in the assault by attempting to strike the victim with a lock attached to a length of cloth during the attack.

On December 4, 2014, Senior United States District Court Judge Richard P. Conaboy sentenced Banks’ coconspirator, Johnnie Williams, age 36, formerly of Memphis, Tennessee, to 30 months’ imprisonment for stabbing the victim. On September 10, 2014, Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit the assault.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Special Investigation Section at USP-Canaan. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney John Gurganus.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In this particular case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is ten years’ imprisonment for the assault, and five years’ imprisonment for the conspiracy charge and the weapon possession charge. Banks also faces a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine if convicted. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

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