Hustles, thefts and betting are a way of life inside
WAYMART, Pa. – There is considerable question whether many of the patients who are confined at Farview State Hospital – Pennsylvania's Hospital for the criminally insane – are either criminal or insane.
The hospital's population ranges from those who are clearly criminals and clearly mentally ill, to those who fit only one of those categories, to those who fit neither.
But if some of the patients know nothing about crime when they enter Farview, it doesn't take them long to learn a lot about it. For Farview, crime – by guards and staff against patients – is a way of life.
Beyond the crimes of murder, assault and sodomy – which, as The Inquirer disclosed Sunday and yesterday, are all too familiar to those at Farview – there other kinds of crime on which the hospital almost seems to run, just as the engine runs on gasoline. These are crimes of money.
This is the story of money at Farview.
Money comes and Farview in a variety of forms – Veterans Administration benefits or Social Security checks that are sent regularly to inmates; cash, money orders and valuables mailed to inmates by friends or relatives; and small sums paid to patients by guards and staff for odd jobs and favors.
According to numerous former patients, money goes out of Farview in different ways:
The center of much of this activity is a room at Farview called, by inmates, guards and administrators, "the horse room."
The horse room, as described by one former inmate, is lavishly furnished by Farview standards – a bed, a large table, a window with curtains and several easy chairs. It is there, he says, the guards run the bookmaking operations – placing their own and patients' bets with an outside bookie and "laundering" patients' Social Security and Veterans Administration checks by exchanging them with a local businessman for cash.
The horse room is also where pornographic pictures are clipped from magazines for sale or rent to patients – and where former inmates are frequently brought for forced sex with guards, a former inmate says.
In a recent interview, Francis Truman, captain of the guards at Farview, said he did not know exactly how much money passes through the horse room's bookmaking operation. However, he said, people "in higher positions than me know it is going on and that it has been going on and (they) have never done a thing about it."
Truman maintains that at least one physician and three other staff members besides guards currently participate in what goes on in the horse room.
What goes on there, among other things, is theft. Mrs. Judy McGuire, the wife of a former superintendent at Farview and herself a social worker at the hospital until 1974, said in a recent interview at her home in Colorado Springs, Colo., that one guard once explained to her how he and others had duped patients into endorsing their Social Security checks over to the guards.
"They would show a piece of paper to the patient," said Mrs. Maguire, "and then ask the patient if he liked to go outside for fresh air or if he liked to play ball. ... When the patient said he did like those things, the guards would say, 'OK, sign your name here.' The patient would sign his name. That was just one way of getting a signature endorsement on a check."
Mrs. McGuire's husband, Dr. Michael McGuire, who quit after seven months as superintendent of Farview in 1974, says that he was "never fully armed with proof of what was going on," but that he did "notice certain staff members spending an inordinate amount of time standing near a pay telephone in the front section of the hospital and that the guards' union got quite upset when I try to change that particular room to some other purpose."
There was reason for the guards to get upset. Clearly, much money was at stake.
Michael Marrera, a former Farview patient who has since been transferred to Camp Hill Correctional Institute, dwelled on Farview's bookmaking operations in an account of his experiences at Farview that he smuggled to Lt. Gov. Ernest Kline in April 1974. In the letter, Marrera refer to guards and others by "code number."
"The main pastimes at the hospital," Marrera wrote, "are, clearly, without doubt, gambling. I gambled quite often; so did other people. Certain people would borrow money from guards. The guards would charge the patient a pack (of cigarettes) for every 30 cents they wanted. I have placed bets with guards to make a bet with 041, who is a known bookie and runs his business right here at the hospital with other guards. I'll place my bet with the understanding that me and Mr. 007 would split my winnings if I win, but I never won in that bet."
Marrera's letter went for naught; Klein sent it back to Farview with the suggestion that "perhaps it may be useful in his future treatment."
What is certain, and nobody denies, is that large sums of money exchanged hands inside the hospital and that it has been the case for at least two decades, even though possession of cash by patient is against both state and hospital policy.
Cash and special favors for guards seem to be a patient's only avenue to a livable existence and privileges at Farview.
William Ash, 57, a former patient who spent almost 23 years at Farview, maintains that he put a $5 bill on every letter he gave to every guard to mail for him.
"You knew the odds were pretty good the guard would keep the $5 and not mail the letter, but sometimes a guard would actually mail it," Ash recalls.
"One thing was for sure, if there was no money involved, the letter damned sure wasn't going anywhere except for the trash can."
Former patients say the guards at Farview routinely opened and read mail coming to and sent out by patients. In some cases, they destroyed or censored it. Farview administrators interviewed late last week said that incoming mail was opened to check for contraband and that outgoing mail was not. Others, including attorneys inmates write to, dispute that claim.
In at least one documented case – that of Charles Simon, 68, who was sentenced to 30 days for disorderly conduct, then spent 30 years at Farview – even such privileged mail as letters to attorneys wase opened and read. Not only were Simon's letters to attorneys censored, but cover letters written by Dr. John Shovlin, Farview superintendent in 1949 to 1974, were attached to them, informing the attorney that the sender was a psychiatric patient. Three different times, Dr. Shovlin warned attorneys that Simon had also written to other lawyers and wrote that the hospital thought the attorneys "should know more of Simon's mental condition."
For years, Simon was unable to retain an attorney.
Dr. Shovlin confirmed all that in testimony in a 1974 court case in which Simon contended that he had received no treatment during his 30 years at Farview.
Simon's letters to family members were not allowed to be mailed and a notation was placed in his file: "Letter contents noted for paranoid aspects. Not mailed as per censor decision."
In a letter from Simon to Sen. Herman Talmage (D., Ga.) was intercepted and never left Farview, with the reason noted in Simon's file: "Not serving any valid purpose."
Such censorship and destruction of mail ensures that allegations of events inside the Farview often fail to reach the outside community. It also prevents patients from communicating with people who might help them gain legal release.
Attorney David Ferleger, director of the Mental Health Civil Liberties Project, says he often receives letters from Farview patients asking: "Why won't you reply to my letters? This is the third and fourth letter I've written to you. Why don't you respond?"
Says Ferleger: "I imagine that the letter I finally received is the one they smuggled out of the place after trying three times legitimately."
Leon Ziegler, a former patient who left Farview about 18 months ago after eight years there, says he has seen guards open packages and remove whatever they wanted or whatever fit them.
John McCullough, a patient at Farview from 1960 to 1962, says that was also the case as long ago as his stay at the hospital.
"The guards would open the packages and try on shoes if there was a new pair inside. They would take socks, shaving cream, radios or whatever they wanted. Then sometimes they would come around and try to sell it to the inmate who was supposed to get the package in the first place. But if you got cash or a money order in the mail, forget it, man. It's gone, and you never knew it came."
Patients also could make money at Farview, former inmates say – although not on a scale to match the guards. They shined guards' shoes for a dime a pair.
Those who worked in the kitchen sold sandwiches and coffee between meals to other inmates.
Some washed and polished guards' cars for 50 cents or $1. Those in the laundry washed and pressed guard uniforms for 25 cents or so. And all were encouraged to charge cigarettes on their store accounts at 45 cents a pack and sell them to guards for 25 cents.
With the money the patients make from such chores and sales, they may rent a pornographic picture for $5 an hour or buy a pint of water with a splash of whiskey in it for $20.
According to Ziegler, some inmates who have been at Farview many years have accumulated thousands of dollars. Some of them, however, have entrusted their money to certain guards who have told the patients they have placed the funds in a bank account outside for the patient.
Ziegler himself, an enterprising patient if ever there was one, says he sent about $10,000 home during the last two years he was at Farview, much of it from a newspaper route in the hospital that he held exclusively.
The state pays for a dozen newspapers every morning and another dozen every evening for patients to read in the ward day-rooms, Ziegler says. But those newspapers are taken by guards and doctors, Ziegler says, so, on his own, he ordered additional papers and sold them to the patients.
In addition, during the last year he was at the hospital, Ziegler says, he became something of a teacher's pet among guards and administrators. He was trusted to go from Farview to Carbondale and do carpentry work on a recreation room for Dr. Shovlin, the former superintendent.
"I'm sure the material alone cost $4,000 or $5,000," Ziegler says. "And I can only imagine what he would have had to pay a professional carpenter. He paid me $750."
Dr. Shovlin, in a telephone interview, acknowledged that Ziegler had worked at his home "off and on for more than a year," but that he "wouldn't want to mention how much I paid him"
"It wouldn't be unusual to have patients working outside," he added. "It had been done in the past and was encouraged as good therapy."
Shovlin said he "could not estimate" how much money he saved by having Ziegler do the work.
Earlier, before Dr. Shovlin retired and moved to Carbondale, he lived in a rent-free, 14-room, Tudor style house, where he had two maids on the state payroll.
Such free labor is not the only benefit accruing to some Farview employees.
Former patients say that the wives of doctors and guards call in their grocery orders to the main kitchen and patients box up the items, from canned goods to meat, toilet paper to soap. The wives, they say, then drive to the back gate and patients load the boxes into the automobiles. Fruits and vegetables grown by patients on the hospital farm are also distributed to employees and, on occasion, according to Ziegler, a guard would take some produce and a patient out to Route 6 and set up a roadside stand.
But, while employes' wives take food and supplies, patients are deprived of such basics as toilet paper former inmates say. Guards dole out a sheet at a time to inmates who are considered "good boys." And although the state supplies such items as soap to the hospital, inmates have to purchase cakes of it from the canteen, they say.
"Almost everybody in the place had a hustle going," recalled Ziegler, a New Cumberland, Pa. truck driver who got out of Farview in 1974. "You had to have cash money in order to make it and there were guys in there who could loan $100 as easy as a bank could. If you borrow money from a guard, you owed him a favor. If you borrowed money from a patient, you had to pay 100 percent interest.