Inmate death Sunday fifth at Thomson federal prison in a year

Lights shine at the federal prison located just north of Thomson.

THOMSON – A 41-year-old Israeli mobster found unresponsive, apparently outside his cell, is the fifth Thomson federal prison inmate to die in less than a year.

Shay Paniry of Studio City, California, was found in an unspecified area, with life-threatening injuries, around 6 p.m. Sunday, according to a Bureau of Prisons news release sent this morning.

Staff “immediately secured the area and initiated life-saving measures,” but EMTs subsequently pronounced him dead, the release said.

No one else was injured, the release said.

Paniry, who arrived at the prison on Oct. 14, was sentenced to 17 years, 6 months for conspiracy to launder money, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and interfering with commerce.

Paniry was the middle man for Moshe Matsri, who was linked to one of the most notorious organized crime rings in Israel and who on his own operated “a vast international criminal conspiracy engaged in drug trafficking and money laundering,” the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California said in a 2015 news release.

Paniry took orders directly from Matsri and made sure “the dirty work was done, whether he did it himself or recruited others to do it for him,” prosecutors wrote in Paniry’s sentencing memo.

Mastri’s conviction and subsequent sentencing in July 2015 to 32 years in federal prison lead to Paniry’s conviction, the release said.

The Thomson spokeswoman cited in the news release sent today was out of the office and did not return a message seeking further information.

Paniry’s was the fifth death of an inmate at the high-security prison, which has been plagued with staffing shortages, since March 2, 2020.

• Matthew Phillips, 31, of Texas, was found unresponsive with life-threatening head injuries the morning of March 2. He was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead 3 days later. He was sentenced to 7 years, 3 months for distributing heroin and money laundering.

• Edsel Aaron Badoni, 37, of Blue Gap, Arizona, died around 2:30 p.m. Nov. 27 after a fight with another inmate. He was sentenced Feb. 13, 2018, to 13 years, 10 months for assault with a deadly weapon, assault resulting in serious bodily injury and discharging a firearm during a violent crime; he was sent to Thomson on Nov. 25, 2019.

• A week later, on Dec. 3, Boyd Weekley, 49, of South Dakota, was found unresponsive at 2:30 p.m., also after a fight with another inmate. Life-saving measures were performed by prison staff and emergency medical services; he was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead. Weekley was serving a life sentence for a Western District of Michigan conviction on kidnapping and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He had been in Thomson custody since Feb. 25, 2020.

• Two weeks later, Patrick Bacon, 36, was found unresponsive in his cell around midnight Dec. 18. Life-saving measures were performed and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Bacon was serving a 10-year sentence levied in California for assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm, aiding and abetting, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

According to records from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Bacon was imprisoned in Victorville Federal Prison in California when he stabbed another inmate with a metal shank, fracturing the man’s sinus cavity and causing stab wounds to his head and chest. Bacon was appealing the conviction because he had not been allowed to employ an insanity defense. He, too, had been in custody at Thomson since Oct. 14.

Thomson houses 1,345 male prisoners, a number that has not changed markedly in the last year.

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Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.