The convicted drug dealer whose proposed release prior to the expiration of his minimum prison sentence brought protests from two local prosecutors will now be behind bars for at least another two years, according to a new decision by the State Board of Probation and Parole.
A spokeswoman for the state Board, Sherry Tate, said Tuesday that the parole of Randy "Braids" Hernandez, 26, has been rescinded because new information was presented to members of the Board.
Blair County District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio called the decision of the Board of Probation and Parole in January to parole Hernandez "very improper."
"I think it was horrendous," he then added.
According to Consiglio, Senior Deputy Attorney General Dave Gorman, a former Blair County District Attorney who prosecuted Hernandez as part of a drug organization that distributed heroin and cocaine in the Altoona area in the late 2000s, is the person who provided the new information to members of the Parole and Probation Board.
He said he didn't know what that information was, but he said he appreciated Gorman's efforts.
Gorman could not be reached for comment.
Hernandez is serving an eight- to 16-year prison sentence at the State Correctional Institution, Benner, in Centre County.
On Jan. 30, Consiglio and his top drug prosecutor, Pete Weeks, received notice that Hernandez, after serving only six years, was paroled to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement so he could be deported to his native Belize in Central America.
Weeks called the move "extremely frustrating," and Consiglio called it "outrageous."
The Board of Probation and Parole reasoned that Hernandez had shown "positive" behavior in prison, accepted responsibility for his offenses, completed several institutional programs and that his removal from the prison system was "in the best interests of the Commonwealth."
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has been seeking parole for non-citizens so they can be deported.
The premise is that Hernandez, a drug dealer, is considered a non-
That idea was rejected by Blair County officials who pointed out Hernandez was part of a Brooklyn Blood organization that then-Attorney General, now-Gov., Tom Corbett called "a very dangerous criminal organization."
Hernandez was arrested as part of the drug investigation "Operation Blood Clot."
Consiglio and Weeks argued that Hernandez grew up in New York, not Belize, and that even if he was deported, he would soon be back on the streets distributing drugs.
Tate said she could not make public the additional information that was presented to board members but that each member of the board who voted for Hernandez's parole would have had to okay its rescission.
She said Hernandez's minimum sentence will expire in February 2016, the next time he will be considered for parole.
He could still be paroled to ICE if that organization maintains its deport
ation order against Hernandez.
While the Department of Corrections is attempting to reduce the state's prison's population, Consiglio said the other side of the story is that releasing drug dealers prior to their minimums is simply putting criminals back on the streets.
Hollidaysburg attorney Robert Donaldson represented Hernandez and was able to obtain a relatively short jail term for him compared to other drug-related sentences handed down by Blair County judges.
He said that "at the end of the day either option for Randy Hernandez (staying in prison or being deported) is not too good."
He said Hernandez had no connections to Belize.
While Donaldson said drug dealing is a danger to society, in his year
long association with Hernandez he did not find him to be a violent individual.
"I had a lot of time with the young man, and I wouldn't consider him violent," he said.