Inmate sues, gets released on bail

Judge modified Fetterman’s bail after complaint

A Blair County Prison inmate who filed a federal lawsuit complaining that he was being illegally detained was released Thursday after Blair County Judge Timothy Sullivan modified his bail.

Francis David Fetterman, 35, was being held in the prison awaiting disposition of charges that he operated a chop shop.

Court documents show that Fetterman was charged last March and that bail was set at $50,000 cash, meaning he had to come up with the full amount before being released pending the outcome of his case.

Sullivan, according to the state court records, on Thursday modified Fetterman’s bail by making it unsecured. That means he was not required to post any cash.

The Blair County Prison confirmed that the inmate had been released on Thursday.

The records also show that Fetterman is awaiting appearance before the Blair County plea court.

Fetterman’s federal court lawsuit was filed against the Blair County commissioners, the chief clerk, the solicitor, the prison board and a corrections officer.

Upon initial inspection, U.S. Magistrate Keith Pesto in Johnstown recommended civil charges outlined in the handwritten lawsuit filed by the inmate be dismissed against county officials, but that the civil lawsuit remain against the corrections officer who Fetterman contends “looked the other way” while he was attacked last year by fellow inmates.

Pesto, in his recommendation Friday, stated that the released inmate failed to state valid legal claims against the commissioners, chief clerk and solicitor, but he stated the inmate had until March 9 to file objections to his conclusion and also stated the inmate had a right to amend his complaint to conform to legal standards.

Fetterman not only requested his immediate release from prison but is also requesting financial damages of $750,000 and contending he feared additional assault, even though, he said, he was in “protective custody.”

He stated in his lawsuit that his continued imprisonment placed him in a “dangerous situation.”

The inmate outlined a series on injuries, physical and mental, that resulted from the attack.

He said his knee was badly injured and that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety due to placement in a unsafe environmental and social anxiety.

He is seeking damages that will enable him to attend college and receive mental health care.

The inmates and corrections officer are awaiting trial on the charges against them.

The officer who still remains as part of the lawsuit is due for a status conference before Blair County Judge Wade Kagarise on March 2.

Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio was not available for comment Friday.