Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 | 10:15 p.m.
Days before the COVID-19 pandemic triggered lockdowns across Nevada, a man pleaded guilty to federal charges out of Las Vegas. He was sent to a private prison in Pahrump to await sentencing.
Brandon Patton’s public defender deemed him to be at risk: An obese man with heart problems, pulmonary disease, diabetes and high blood pressure would likely not fare well with the novel coronavirus.
In denying his emergency temporary release, a judge and prosecutors said Patton — who had pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges and had violated probation in another case — was a flight risk and danger to the community.
On Sept. 26, a month after the judge denied his latest motion, Patton was hospitalized with COVID-19, according to court records and Nevada’s Federal Public Defender’s Office.
Patton died Thursday, three days before a Nevada Southern Detention Center corrections officer died “due to a potential COVID-19-related issue,” CoreCivic, a private prison company, said Tuesday in a prepared statement.
Officials didn’t identify the decedent out of respect to the officer’s family, CoreCivic said.
They’re the first two known COVID-19-related deaths connected to Nevada prisons. The Nevada Department of Corrections hasn’t reported any fatalities because of the virus in its 12 facilities, which have disclosed 173 total confirmed cases, according to state figures.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons doesn’t run any facilities in Nevada. The CoreCivic facility in Pahrump — the only prison that houses federal inmates in Nevada — contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Patton was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over by the Nevada Highway Patrol near Las Vegas on May 29, 2019. In his possession, troopers found nearly a pound of marijuana, more than 6 pounds of meth, and