MADISON — Staff at the Somerset County Jail followed correct procedure in handling the death of an inmate in March, according to a Maine Department of Corrections report released recently.

After viewing jail documents and the deceased inmate’s medical records, interviewing staff and inmates and viewing video surveillance, the department determined “the response and action taken by staff in this case was appropriate and in compliance with required mandatory jail standards,” according to a department letter received by the jail on Monday.

Inmate Richard Bruce Greco, 61, of Dixfield, died March 19 in his cell of a brain aneurysm. He had been serving a 90-day sentence for his involvement in a fatal crash in 2009 in Wilton.

As part of the department’s review, it investigated four allegations another inmate made regarding the medical response and care of Greco. After viewing Greco’s medical records and security videos of the staff and paramedics’ response, however, an investigator found the allegations to be unsubstantiated, the letter states. It doesn’t detail the allegations.

“I just think we’re well prepared here. We have to be,” Sheriff Barry DeLong said, adding that he doesn’t mind having inmates challenge workers’ response.

“It keeps my people sharper knowing they’re being watched,” he said.

The department reviews the circumstances surrounding every inmate death. It’s also standard procedure for police to investigate whether there was foul play.

There was “absolutely nothing suspicious about (Greco’s death),” Lt. Gary Wright, with the state police Criminal Investigation Division, said. “Our investigation is closed.”

“Mr. Greco’s incarceration at the Somerset County Jail can be described as uneventful pending his death on 3/19/11,” the correction department’s letter to the jail states. “On that date, Mr. Greco was discovered by his cellmate unresponsive while in his cell.”

Staff began life-saving measures, which were continued by emergency medical technicians upon their arrival. Greco remained unresponsive, however, the letter states, and the medical examiner later ruled the cause of death a brain aneurysm. It was the first death at Somerset County Jail since it opened in 2008.

The jail currently houses about 170 inmates, DeLong said. They include local people, in addition to boarders from other counties or the state or federal prison system.

Greco was in jail for crossing the yellow line on U.S. Route 2 in Wilton in March 2009, striking a sport utility vehicle head-on. The crash killed front-seat passenger 73-year-old Avis Pettengill, of Jay, and critically injured four of her family members.

A grand jury indicted Greco on charges of manslaughter and two counts of criminal operating under the influence. Attorneys agreed to a plea bargain, however, that dismissed those charges and found Greco guilty of one count of felony reckless conduct.

An analysis of Greco’s blood after the crash showed he had consumed no alcohol. But he did test positive for a combination of prescription drugs used for pain.

Erin Rhoda — 474-9534

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