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Published October 05 2011

Search reveals previous transport complaints

FARGO – Joseph Megna said a forced diet of “bread and cheese” drove him to flee the transport van that was taking him westward to face criminal charges in Washington state.

After the high-risk sex offender surrendered to local authorities in a rural cornfield near Tower City, his reason was simple:

“I was starving, and that’s why I escaped,” Megna said. “I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody; I was just trying to get out of that transport vehicle.”

Megna isn’t the first to make such claims after being in the care of Extradition Transport of America, a private contractor based in Riverside, Calif.

A search of federal court records by The Forum revealed at least four prisoners formerly in ETA’s care have sued the company since January 2010, each independently alleging ETA violated their basic civil rights.

Two of those cases were dismissed after the prisoners didn’t keep current addresses on file with the local federal courts.

The remaining two cases – filed in Missouri and California – are pending.

The details of each complaint are eerily identical, even though the incidents occurred at separate times all across the country.

A secretary at the company’s Riverside office declined to provide any comment to The Forum and refused to leave a message for owner Billy Taylor.

According to court records, the allegations by former prisoners transported by ETA include:

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541