Former prison warden gets four years in prison

Saturday, January 19, 2002

VIENNA, Ill. -- The former warden of the Shawnee Correctional Center was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for driving drunk and causing a car wreck that left a fellow prison employee dead.

Johnson County Circuit Court Chief Judge Michael Henshaw also ordered William Barham, 47, to pay the state more than $19,000 for the state-owned car that was wrecked in the October 2000 crash.

Henshaw had found Barham guilty last year of reckless homicide and aggravated drunken driving in the late-night crash near Simpson.

Barham's passenger, Jerry Isom, 47, a dietary manager at the prison, was killed. A blood-alcohol test later indicated that Barham, who was seriously injured in the crash, was legally drunk at the time.

Barham, a 24-year Department of Corrections employee, claimed he was neither drunk nor driving.

His attorney did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Friday.

Corrections Department officials will decide where Barham will serve his sentence but no decision has been made, said spokesman Brian Fairchild. "Obviously, anytime you put a former law-enforcement officer in a prison setting, there are going to be extra concerns," he said.

Barham was removed from his $72,00-a-year job when he was charged in 2000.

Johnson County assistant state's attorney Alan McIntyre said he was satisfied with the sentence. "I believe a message has to be sent, not just to John Q. Public, but to all people empowered with the public trust," he said Friday. "That message was sent today."

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