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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jesse Trentadue Offers Reward In Brothers' Death

By J.M. Berger

On August 21, 1995, Kenneth Michael Trentadue was found dead in his cell, at a federal prison in Oklahoma City.

After 13 years of battling the government in search of answers, Trentadue's brother is offering a $250,000 reward for the truth.

Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue is offering the reward for "new evidence resulting in final felony murder convictions" of those responsible for his brother's death.

Details on the reward can be found at The reward was also published in newspapers today and will be advertised in a corrections industry magazine.

Kenneth Trentadue's death was ruled a suicide by hanging by the Bureau of Prisons and the FBI. But Jesse Trentadue believes his brother was murdered because of his resemblance to a bank robbery suspect connected to the Oklahoma City bombing.

That suspect, Richard Lee Guthrie Jr., died in prison less than a year later, also the result of a hanging. Guthrie's death was also ruled a suicide (documents). Jesse Trentadue has sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act seeking more information on the bombing conspiracy (documents).

Kenneth Trentadue was in prison awaiting a hearing on an alleged parole violation. Trentadue had been convicted in 1982 of playing a role in a bank robbery and was released on parole in 1987.

Two days after arriving at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City for processing on August 18, Trentadue asked to be placed in protective custody telling a prison official he had "stepped into some shit" and may have had a problem with "mistaken identity," according to a Justice Department internal investigation into the death.

Trentadue was moved into a special unit for closer supervision later that day. He was found dead in his cell early the following morning.

Prison officials did not attempt to revive him and subsequently misrepresented various aspects of the case to Trentadue's family. In 1999, a Justice Department internal investigation found that the Bureau of Prisons employees "inappropriately delayed entry into (Trentadue's) cell, did not examine him properly, and did not immediately provide medical attention to him."

The investigation also found that the BOP "inadequately processed the cell for evidence and inappropriately rushed to clean the cell."

According to the report of the investigation, the FBI "did not investigate the case adequately, (...) mishandled evidence, failed to document the case adequately, and made various mistakes in its investigation."

The investigation also found that at least three BOP employees and one FBI employee had made false statements about the case under oath.

Despite all this, however, the investigation concluded Trentadue's death had been a suicide, explaining the trauma to the body as the result of a sequence of events in which Trentadue "attempted to hang himself, fell from the sink during this attempt, attempted to cut his throat with a toothpaste tube, then successfully hanged himself with a bed sheet he put around his neck and attached to the vent grate above the sink."

Jesse Trentadue sued the government for wrongful death and won. The family was awarded about $1 million. The court ruled that the death was a suicide, but said the government mishandled the case so severely that it merited an award for intentionally inflicting emotional distress.

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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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