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York County Jail administrator fired after last year’s COVID-19 outbreak at jail

Bangor WABI-TV logo Bangor WABI-TV 6/23/2021 WABI News Desk
a man standing in front of a building: There were at least 96 cases of the virus involving jail staff and inmates. © Provided by Bangor WABI-TV There were at least 96 cases of the virus involving jail staff and inmates.

ALFRED, Maine (WMTW) - The administrator of the York County Jail has been fired as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak at the jail last summer.

After 10 months on paid leave, Michael Vitiello was let go on Friday by York County Commissioners after an investigation and at the recommendation of Sheriff Bill King.

Vitiello ran the jail since it opened 13 years ago.

In a letter King sent to Vitiello last month, King blamed Vitiello for the COVID-19 outbreak last August.

There were at least 96 cases of the virus involving jail staff and inmates.

The virus was brought to the jail by a guard who attended a super-spreader wedding in the Millinocket area.

One of the key issues, according to the investigation, was that no masks were required inside the jail.

King said in the letter to Vitiello that Vitiello was adamant masks not be worn.

“You told me and several others in no uncertain terms that masking inmates would cause a panic and ‘frighten’ them, leading to disruption,” King said.

Corrections officers at the jail questioned the policy, according to their union’s regional director, William Doyle.

“They were very concerned, and they shared those concerns with management; they shared their concerns with me,” Doyle said.

As of last January, masks were recommended for first responders and were required as of last June.

As King showed WMTW News 8 in April of last year, the jail had taken precautions, including spraying disinfectant where prisoners use phones, testing new arrivals in the intake area, housing them alone and serving meals in their cells.

“There’s no vendors coming into the secure area with the exception of the food service people and the officers,” King said at the time.

In the letter, King said Vitiello “balked” when he suggested corrections officers wear masks.

The masking issue, which was in fact crucial, left us vulnerable,” King said.

“I think there were failures all along the line, and I wouldn’t put it on any one person in particular,” Doyle said.

WMTW went to Vitiello’s home on Tuesday but no one was there. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

King and York County commissioners would not speak about the firing.

Copyright 2021 WMTW. All rights reserved.

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