Blair to get portion of payout

Part of inmate’s settlement will go toward paying his costs and fines

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County will get a portion of a legal settlement that one of its insurance companies is paying to resolve a federal lawsuit filed by a former county inmate who was assaulted in the county prison.

Commissioners acknowledged Tuesday that Old National Insurance Co. will pay $175,000 to settle the lawsuit Harry G. Smith Jr. filed in U.S. Western District Court in Johnstown, against Lloyd G. Rogers Jr., a former county corrections officer.

Rogers was convicted at the end of a jury trial in August 2016 on a charge of official oppression, then sentenced to two years’ probation.

Smith, during the trial, said he was being escorted through the prison on Nov. 11, 2014, when Rogers intentionally pushed him backward, causing him to fall to floor.

“I hit my head, then I saw stars,” Smith told the jury. “I felt like I got hit by a car, and I was hurting.”

Rogers told the jury that he was attempting to maintain control while escorting Smith.

Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio asked the jury to conclude otherwise after showing the incident captured on prison surveillance video.

“What was the justification for that?” Consiglio told the jurors to ask.

The settlement commissioners approved directs $20,000 of the $175,000 to go to the county’s costs and fines office on Smith’s behalf, solicitor Nathan Karn said Tuesday.

Online records show Smith, now an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, has been making small monthly payments toward his costs and fines that add up to $26,600. He is serving time on multiple offenses in connection to assaults, drug and alcohol use and probation violations.

Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb said he was in favor of the settlement and compared the county’s receipt of $20,000 to a lien that has to be paid off before funds are disbursed. Commissioners Terry Tomassetti and Ted Beam Jr. also voted to approve the settlement.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.