A homicide investigation is underway following the death of an inmate Friday at a Pahrump private detention center used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday.
The announcement came after several inquiries to the Sheriff’s Office and federal agencies from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which reported the death at the Nevada Southern Detention Center on Saturday following confirmation from Kayla Gieni, a spokeswoman for the facility.
The newspaper was first notified of the situation by the inmate’s brother, Shawn Tocci, who feared the death would not otherwise be publicly announced. He identified the inmate as 28-year-old Frank Tocci, whose case remained pending with the Clark County coroner’s office as of Monday afternoon.
Shawn Tocci said he and his mother were frustrated by a lack of communication from the Marshals Service and CoreCivic, the company that owns and manages the detention center, which Gieni said holds detainees awaiting trial.
“I didn’t want his death to be swept under the rug,” Shawn Tocci said Monday in a phone interview. “That’s why I reached out.”
In a statement Monday, CoreCivic spokesman Brandon Bissell said, in part, “Due to an active and ongoing investigation by law enforcement, and to preserve the integrity of their investigative work, it would not be appropriate for CoreCivic to comment on the specifics of Mr. Tocci’s death at this time.”
Gieni said the inmate, who was not in ICE custody, was found about 4:05 a.m. Friday during a security inspection at the detention center, about 70 miles west of Las Vegas at 2190 E. Mesquite Ave. Staff began “life-saving measures” on the man until first responders transferred him to an “outside hospital,” where he was pronounced dead about a half-hour later.
A section of the facility was placed on lockdown Friday following the discovery, Gieni added, although she did not release further details.
An investigation has been opened by the Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the FBI and the Marshals Service.
In the Sheriff’s Office announcement posted to Facebook, Deputy Ann Horak said the suspect in Frank Tocci’s death remained in custody at the prison. Both the victim and suspect were being held on federal charges, she said.
Shawn Tocci said he was unaware of the homicide investigation until a phone interview Monday morning with the Review-Journal.
“It’s even more upsetting not getting answers because it was my mom’s birthday this weekend, and we have no idea what happened,” he said. “We’re pretty aggravated. I’ve called and left messages. I was kind of hoping to hear from someone today.”
Shawn Tocci said his brother had been in and out of Nevada Southern Detention Center for the past year awaiting trial on one count of assault on a federal officer, adding that his brother had recently been in custody at a county jail for several months for court cases in connection with a parole violation.
No other details surrounding the alleged assault were immediately available, but court records show that he had pleaded not guilty and a jury trial had been scheduled to begin Nov. 18.
Nevada Department of Corrections records show a 28-year-old Frank Tocci had active sentences in the state for burglary, attempted coercion and assault with a deadly weapon. Shawn Tocci said his brother was out on parole in that case when he landed at the private detention center on the federal charge.
“My brother was by no means an angel,” Shawn Tocci said, “but the prison system has an obligation to keep inmates safe, and I just don’t think that they are if they’re not even answering our questions.”