Chino Prison Guard Accused of Nazism on Hunger Strike

It was a surprise to get another letter from Shayne Allyn Ziska, a former correctional officer at the California Institution for Men in Chino, who has continuously protested his innocence ever since he was found guilty of racketeering, conspiracy and civil rights violations by a federal judge in 2006. The Weekly wrote a lot about his bizarre case, and now it turns out he’s on a hunger strike, at least according to a letter I got from him this week.

Ziska, who is locked up in the Federal Correctional Institution Schuylkil in Pennsylvania, claimed that he has refused his share of prison grub since March 14, and is being forced fed “via a nasogastric tube through my nose, nasal passage, and into my stomach” since April 22.

“I refuse to eat because I am an innocent man that was falsely convicted and imprisoned,” he wrote. 'Soon {Bureau of Prisons] is going to have to water me too.”

Ziska was found guilty in Los Angeles on March of 2006 on one count of violent crime in aid of racketeering, one count of deprivation of civil rights under the color of law, and one count of conspiracy. During the six-day trial, his accusers – a rag-tag group of prisoners - took the stand in federal court, telling Los Angeles District Court Judge Terry Hatter Jr. that Ziska, then 44, became an associate of the Nazi Low Riders, a white supremacist prison gang, and participated in assaults and drug trafficking at the behest of gang members. They said he preached “white power” ideology and referred to black inmates as “rugs,” “porch monkeys” and “niggers.”

According to inmates’ testimony, Ziska allowed his favorite white inmates out of their cells to plot crimes and to retaliate against other inmates for violating the so-called gangster’s code of conduct. To control his empire, “Z,” as his friends called him, housed his favorite white inmates together and occasionally smuggled heroin and methamphetamine inside letters for them. He would allow white inmates to make wine in their cells, and often looked the other way when a beating went down. He was the “go-to” guy for certain “buddies” in need of razors. To the inmates, he was a leader and teacher, instructing inmates in self-defense, with tips on how to take away a weapon from a guard. He was a philosopher, preaching about Friedrich Nietzsche and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Or so they said, and the judge believed it. The verdict closed the door on a five-year investigation that began in 1999, when the Ontario Police Department looked into a spate of violent crime and an upsurge in meth labs attributed to the Nazi Low Riders. The police finally called in the FBI. By the end of the probe, 29 members or associates of the gang had been indicted. Most of those named in the 2002 indictment had spent time in Chino’s prison, and two of the nine inmates who agreed to testify against Ziska had been indicted by the feds.

However, Ziska still contends that he was convicted on “no evidence,” and wants to know why FBI agents did not audio or video tape their witnesses in his case. “Every backwoods police/sheriff's department videos their traffic stops let alone interviews,” he wrote to me recently. The FBI did not return my calls seeking comment.

In his letter, Ziska also attacks me and the LA Weekly for choosing to write about a “lame Nazi story” over “the truth.” Only problem is, he is still not offering any evidence that the justice system got it wrong.

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