Guard who abused inmate in Sweden got job at Illinois prison, authorities say

HIRED IN ’03 | Man who fled sex conviction for abusing female inmate in Swedish prison found working at Sheridan Correctional Center under real name

In 1999, Jerry Pomush was convicted of sexually abusing a female inmate while he worked as a prison guard in Stockholm, Sweden.

But instead of heading to a Swedish prison to serve his 1½-year sentence, Pomush skipped town and headed to an Illinois prison — where he landed a job, authorities say.

For the last six years, Pomush has worked as a counselor at the Sheridan Correctional Center under his real name, beating a background check and evading an international arrest warrant. The warrant was issued in 2001, according to documents filed in federal court Wednesday. Two years later, Pomush was hired as a contract employee to counsel inmates. Sheridan is an all-male facility.

Deputy U.S. marshals, working on an anonymous tip out of Sweden, caught up with Pomush on Wednesday, arresting the 62-year-old.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Diego Grimaldo said Pomush was surprised when he and other deputies showed up at the Sheridan prison.

“He wanted to know how we caught on to him,” said Grimaldo, who said the state Corrections Department was instrumental.

Pomush, a U.S. citizen who lived in Sweden at least 10 years, appeared in Chicago federal court, where he faces extradition, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Perconte.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole scheduled a hearing for today.

Pomush worked as a contract employee with WestCare, which provides social care services, including drug and alcohol counseling.

WestCare senior vice president Leslie Balonic said Pomush was hired in 2003 by a previous contractor and was rehired when WestCare took over the contract in 2006.

Balonic said all contract employees go through rigorous background checks, including fingerprinting — which is handled by state prison officials.

“They are so thorough. It takes them months and months to clear people,” Balonic said.

A Corrections Department spokesman was looking further into questions about a background check Wednesday night.

Pomush has denied the abuse, saying an inmate made up the claim.

Pomush is accused of sexually abusing a female inmate over a two-month period, when she was “in poor mental and physical condition due to her long-term use of heroin.”



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