A Broken Code

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A former union steward and outspoken critic of Warden Pugh, Principe continued to draw pay for his duty-less home assignment until he ran into deeper trouble last spring. In March he was arrested for allegedly assaulting an ex-girlfriend and a drug dealer. Now residing in the Fremont County jail, awaiting trial on more than a dozen charges, Principe denies that he had any dealings with the AB; he blames his current difficulties on domestic problems and the stress of battling unfounded accusations at work.

"This is the age of the snitch," Principe says. "They were so afraid of looking bad that they had to give up somebody. When you go through something like this, you realize how corrupt our system is."

As for H Unit's assistance in building cases against criminals on the street, Weeks claims that several cases, including a major conspiracy case in California, may have been jeopardized by false information supplied by the inmate "consultants." He also charges that some confidential files given to the crew for review were stolen or copied and smuggled out of the prison. He placed information culled from a DEA file into a prisoner lawsuit to demonstrate how easily the material could leak out, he says.

"This file had a massive amount of very sensitive documents, and I knew I should never have been allowed to get possession of something like this," Weeks says. "But I had it, and I read everything in it."

Pugh says he doesn't know where Weeks got the list of DEA suspects he sent on to court. "I have no reason to believe at this point that we gave them any sensitive information that they could have mailed out of this institution," he says. "All of those allegations are currently under investigation."

Four months ago Weeks was moved out of H Unit and into a lockdown cell with no privileges. He says other prisoners campaigned for his removal because he refused to back up their lies; another source hints that investigators may have had problems with his credibility. The current status of the snitch squad is unknown. Weeks says several members have been moved out and are, like him, waiting to see if the government will make good on its promises of safe relocation.

As long as he remains at ADX, "Weeks is in a bad situation," acknowledges one officer. "He tried to snitch and got thrown out. He's a dead man."

Weeks insists he was following his conscience. "I'm in big trouble for taking this stand," he says, "and even when all is said and done, I know few, if any, will appreciate me for it. But it's me that lives with me."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast