Prison guard caught sleeping fired

A hearing officer has upheld the termination of a prison guard caught sleeping while he was supposed to be guarding an inmate.

The incident occurred July 8, 2004, while John Caparaz was at Washoe Medical Center's Intensive Care Unit in Reno guarding an inmate.

A nurse reported that the officers guarding the inmate slept while on duty.

The inmate, identified as Manual Navarette, was shackled to the bed when nurse Mary Gould said she entered and perform her duties without waking the guards. She said she went outside and then returned to wake them up.

Navarette is serving a life sentence at Lovelock for lewdness with a minor.

Caparaz and fellow officer Alexander Alger, she said, were both asleep. Alger admitted during the day he got sleepy and started nodding off. He also said he had seen Caparaz sleeping during their shift at the hospital.

Caparaz denied "nodding off" while on duty. He said he was awake when the nurse entered the room.

Alger, who admitted the violation, was suspended 10 days but wasn't terminated.

Prison officials charged Caparaz, who was the officer in charge as well as the one carrying a weapon, jeopardized inmate security by failing to remain awake while on duty at the hospital and was dishonest, making false statements during the investigation.

Caparaz, who had been a correctional officer for seven years, was terminated.

He filed an appeal with the personnel department charging that Gould might have said they were sleeping because they would not help her move other patients.

Hearing officer Bill Kockenmeister found that, based on testimony from Alger and the nurse, "the reliable, probative and substantial evidence does establish that employee was sleeping while on duty." His opinion states that the hearings division must defer to the prison's decision to fire him since the case involves security issues.

He upheld Caparaz's firing.

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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