Malone begins time in prison

After spending the first half of the decade milking cash from a strip club owner and trying to round up support from Clark County commissioners, Lance Malone could be milking cows or herding cattle for the next several years.

On Wednesday, the former county commissioner began serving his six-year term at the federal prison in Lompoc, Calif., known for its sprawling ranch. The 45-year-old ex-cop requested that he be placed in the facility 50 miles north of Santa Barbara, Calif., so that his family could make the seven-hour drive to visit him.

Malone did not return calls placed to his cell phone while he was en route to begin serving his sentence for delivering bribes to his former colleagues on the commission on behalf of strip club owner Michael Galardi. Malone is the third former commissioner to have reported to prison of four who were sentenced in connection with a political corruption scam dating to 2000.

In February, U.S. District Court Judge Larry Hicks gave Malone the longest term of all the defendants. A California court had sentenced Malone to three years in prison after he was found guilty in 2005 in a parallel scheme that unfolded in San Diego.

His sentences will run concurrently.

Malone signed a plea agreement in September acknowledging that he paid cash bribes to former commissioners Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Erin Kenny and Dario Herrera in exchange for votes favoring Galardi’s business empire.

Kincaid-Chauncey and Herrera were found guilty last year. Kincaid-Chauncey is serving a 30-month sentence at the federal prison in Victorville, Calif., and Herrera is serving a 51-month term at the federal prison in Florence, Colo.

Kenny, who pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government, is scheduled to be sentenced June 6.

Galardi, who also pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government, received a 30-month sentence. Galardi is required to begin serving his sentence by June 22.

In March, Galardi’s lawyer, Robert Rose, asked that his client serve his term at Sheridan, Ore.; Yankton, S.D.; or Lompoc.

Lompoc inmate Michael Santos wrote an essay about what it is like to be incarcerated in the coastal facility. Santos described the compound as beautiful, with towering eucalyptus trees, vast grassy areas and views of the mountains.

The prison is home to a huge ranch with a hundred head of cattle and horses.

Most of the full-time jobs to which inmates are assigned are related to maintenance or landscaping. Some inmates, like Santos, milk the cows. Others are in cowboy crews that herd cattle on horseback or are assigned to repair fences and the heavy equipment used on the ranch.

Prisoners also are shuttled to nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base to perform maintenance and gardening work.

Supervision is not overbearing. In fact, some inmates are transported to off-site jobs by a fellow prisoner. Few will try to escape, knowing that the consequences will be a higher-security prison.

Santos described the living conditions as crowded. According to a guide to federal prisons, Lompoc prisoners stay in massive structures that are similar to airplane hangars. Metal-framed bunk beds line the walls, and each inmate is given a 4-foot by 2-foot locker at the foot of the bed. Santos said 175 prisoners lived in his unit.

The facility also has a soccer and softball field, with games played each evening.

Like Malone, most of Santos’ fellow inmates at Lompoc have been convicted of white-collar crimes, Santos noted.

“A substantial percentage are serving time for white-collar offenses such as bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion, security violations, or other such matters,” Santos wrote.

“We have a population of approximately 350 people that likely is more highly educated than other prisons.”

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