LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — Timesheets obtained by News 3 reveal a former Nevada Department of Corrections warden still collects a paycheck.
William Hutchings stepped down from his position at Southern Desert Correctional Center on July 15. An internal memo shared with NDOC staff revealed Frank Dreesen was appointed the acting warden that same day of the medium-security prison. However, timecards approved by now acting director William Gittere show 40-hour work weeks for Hutchings through mid-September. An NDOC spokesperson said Hutchings would be employed through November 11 and "is on paid administrative leave, although not performing the duties of warden."
"It screams misappropriation of state assets," Paul Lunkwitz, president of the Fraternal Order of Police NV Lodge 21, said. The union represents correctional officers inside Nevada prisons. "To me, those are crimes. I'd be very interested to hear a legitimate explanation for why this warden is still getting paid when he was in an appointed position with absolutely no appeal rights."
Lunkwitz said Hutchings was the warden during a prison riot in December 2021 where inmates took over a unit.
Southern Desert Correctional Center is also where inmate Porfirio Duarte-Herrera escaped in September. Last Friday, Gov. Steve Sisolak requested Charles Daniels to resign from his position as NDOC director following the breakout of Duarte-Herrera on Friday, September 23. The escape was not known until a "confidential source" notified guards three and a half days later, according to an internal memo sent to NDOC staff on Monday. However, NDOC initially reported guards noticed Duarte-Herrera missing after a count Tuesday morning. An investigation by the U.S. Marshals Service and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department resulted in police capturing Duarte-Herrera the next day, attempting to board a shuttle to Tijuana.
The breakout is leading the department to go "Back to Security Basics" at all prisons, according to the subject of the memo sent to NDOC staff by Gittere. The document states, "the security breakdowns that led to this escape represent the worst possible breach of our most fundamental mission objective – to protect the public. We have already implemented many fundamental 'back to basics' security changes to ensure that a breach of this nature never happens again."
Lunkwitz said one change includes staffing all the guard towers following reports of Duarte-Herrera escaping through the fence by an unstaffed tower.
"They're telling the wardens to staff all towers, even though they're not adding any staff," he said. "The staff that's been pulled from spots to be put in other spots, again, to satisfy this knee-jerk reaction to make it appear that they're doing something on paper."
News 3 also learned the department is asking officers from nearby High Desert State Prison to help with staffing at Southern Desert Correctional Center.
"Kind of assist and help out with their staffing needs. They were taking volunteers, so to speak," Lunkwitz said.