Gordon Fox begins sentence at Pennsylvania prison

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former House Speaker Gordon Fox has arrived at a federal prison camp in Pennsylvania to begin serving his three-year sentence for public corruption.

Fox, 53, arrived at Canaan United States Penitentiary in Waymart, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The prison camp is nearly 400 miles from Providence.

Target 12 has learned Fox was originally assigned to a prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, but was redirected to Canaan. The new location is slightly closer to Rhode Island, by about 100 miles.

During Fox’s sentencing last month, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi had recommended that he be sent to a prison close to Rhode Island.

Edmond Ross, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said inmates generally have to spend the first 18 months of their sentences at the facility where they get assigned before they can request a change. He said inmates make such requests through their case managers at the prison.

“We have to balance our population as well – we can’t have one facility that is way overpopulated that is the same level because everyone wants to be there,” Ross said. “All the relevant factors will be considered, the judge’s recommendation included.”

Fox has declined interviews since he was sentenced in June. Reached by phone, Fox’s attorney William Murphy said Tuesday: “He made mistakes, he took responsibility for those mistakes. He is now paying his debt to society. He apologizes to the people he has disappointed.”

The Target 12 Investigators were the first to break the news of the charges against Fox back in February and his subsequent guilty plea in March to charges of bribery, wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

Fox said he accepted $52,500 in bribes from the owners of Shark Bar and Grille on Thayer Street in exchange for helping them obtain a liquor license in 2008, while he was vice-chairman of the powerful Providence Board of Licenses.

He also admitted to taking more than $100,000 from his campaign account to use for personal expenses.

Fox has been assigned prison number 09914-070, according to the Bureau of Prisons website. He has been assigned to a prison camp, which is a low-security facility.

“A camp is the lowest security facility; they don’t even have armed perimeter patrols,” Ross said in an interview last month. “Inmates can literally walk out any time they want but if they do they will be escape status and be prosecuted, so it’s a disincentive to do that.”

According to the Bureau of Prisons website, Canaan has 131 inmates. The prison handbook states new inmates are entered into an orientation program for the first week.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @TimWhiteRI

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