Six months after Jacob Wideman was released from prison on home arrest, he appeared before the parole board for a routine check-in hearing. His parole officer told the board that Jake was doing well: Jake’s employers and therapists gave him positive reviews, as did the director at his halfway house and the landlord at his apartment complex.
But other people were coming to a different conclusion.
About a week before the hearing, Jake’s parole officer had told him that he had received complaints that Jake had committed numerous violations of the terms of his parole — violations that, if he had committed them, could cost him his freedom.
The officer also told him something that startled him: A private investigator could be watching him.
“It brought home to me the people who didn’t want me to be out were keeping an exceptionally close eye on me, and that, you know, they were willing to go to some pretty drastic lengths to try to find ways to get me put back in prison,” Jake said later in an interview from prison.
Soon after that routine check-in hearing before the parole board, Jake was re-arrested.
In Part Six of the “Violation” podcast, we hear interviews and testimony from Jake, his attorneys, parole officials and others as we piece together the events leading up to the parole violation that sent Jake behind bars again — possibly for life.
Listen to new episodes each Wednesday, through the player at the top of the page, or wherever you get your podcasts. The “Violation” series will also be available on The Marshall Project’s site and on Here & Now from NPR and WBUR.Additional materials:
Beth Schwartzapfel: Last time on “Violation”:
Jake Wideman: How many people that you talk to, adults in the world who say opening a bank account is a lot of fun?
Beth Schwartzapfel: In 2016, Jake Wideman got out of prison.
Jake Wideman: …but for me it was.
Amy Goodman: Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner refers to it as, quote, mass supervision, the evil twin of mass incarceration.
Beth Schwartzapfel: What we know for sure, is that the state treated Jake differently than most people on parole, very differently. The question is, did the state treat Jake differently from other people on parole because of pressure from the Kanes?
Jake Wideman: About a week before my first status hearing, my parole officer actually made me aware that there was a private investigator following me. And so he went so far as to warn me that I should be prepared just in case something came up that would cause them to arrest me right at the status hearing, right in the hearing room, which was a pretty big shock to me.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Six months after Jake Wideman got out of prison, in May of 2017, his parole officer Daniel Pereda, said he was doing great. His employers —
Daniel Pereda: They loved him. They spoke positively about him.
Beth Schwartzapfel: The therapists in his mental health program —
Daniel Pereda: The progress reports from them have been positive and actively — and he has been actively participating in these programs.
Beth Schwartzapfel: The director at his halfway house, the landlord at his apartment complex — They all had positive things to say, Jake’s parole officer told the parole board. In fact, Jake was doing so well he was appearing before the board on this day to ask if he could move off of home arrest and into the less intensive general parole.
But that didn’t mean everyone’s outlook was positive. Other people behind the scenes were looking at Jake’s situation and coming to a very different conclusion.
About a week prior, Pereda told Jake he had received information that Jake had committed numerous violations of the terms of his parole, including drinking alcohol and interacting with children. Any of these violations, if he had in fact committed them, could cost him his freedom. Pereda didn’t say where the accusations came from. Pereda’s note about this meeting in Jake’s file also says, “the offender was advised a P.I. could possibly be watching him.”
A P.I. As in, private investigator.
Jake Wideman: It brought home to me the people who didn’t want me to be out were keeping an exceptionally close eye on me and that, you know, they were willing to go to some pretty, pretty drastic lengths to try to find ways to get me put back in prison.
Beth Schwartzapfel: I’m Beth Schwartzapfel. From The Marshall Project and WBUR, this is “Violation.” A story about second chances, parole boards, and who pulls the levers of power in the justice system.
This is Part Six: “Your life is about to change.”
Today we’re going to talk about the three month period between May and July of 2017. Jake didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the end of his nine months of freedom. We’re also going to look back at some events that began in 2014 and helped lay the groundwork for what happened.
At Jake’s routine check in, in May 2017, none of the three parole board members who had voted to release him were still on the board. Sandy Kane, the father of Jake’s victim, Eric, noted that in his remarks. He said he firmly believed the board made a serious mistake in releasing Jake.
Sandy Kane: While we take some comfort that the three board members who voted to grant home arrest to Wideman are no longer on the board, it remains on the record as a decision of the board.
Beth Schwartzapfel: When I first heard this, it sounded to me like Kane was implying those three board members were removed because of their vote in Jake’s case. An email he sent later to the family’s supporters explicitly said the three were removed by the Arizona governor.
Jake’s dad, author John Edgar Wideman, also thought the governor’s administration had removed them in response to Jake’s release.
John Wideman: There was a wholesale change in members of the board. So that’s not — that’s not very mysterious. The board did something that somebody didn’t like.
Beth Schwartzapfel: So, I asked each of the 3 board members who voted to release Jake: Were you fired or removed or not reappointed? And do you think it’s because of your vote on the Wideman case?
Beth Schwartzapfel: Nobody ever said like I wish you hadn’t voted that way, please tender your resignation?
Sandra Lines: No.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Nothing like that?
Sandra Lines: Never. Never. We were really independent voices.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Sandra Lines said she resigned because she was 81.
Sandra Lines: I thought, What the hell am I doing working full time at my age?
Beth Schwartzapfel: Brian Livingston, the second board member who voted to release Jake, died in 2021, but when I called him in 2018, he insisted that he had never heard a bad word from the governor’s office on any of his cases.
Laura Steele, the third board member, said she didn’t know why she wasn’t reappointed. She said she couldn’t rule out that it was because of her vote in Jake’s case, but she also never got pushback directly on it. She said she found the politics of the job exhausting, she was constantly aware that she was working for the governor. Steele declined to talk on tape.
So we know that in at least one instance, probably two, and maybe all three, the board members resigned or were not reappointed for reasons unrelated to Jake’s release.
We did try to talk to former Governor Doug Ducey about all this, by the way, but he did not respond to our interview requests.
At that board hearing, Sandy Kane, who was outraged that Jake had been granted parole, described his efforts to speak to Jake’s parole officer and his supervisor on the phone. Said he was told to communicate in writing, and that when he did the answers were “terse and uninformative.”
Sandy Kane: My family is legally the victim in this case, and based upon the Arizona Constitution’s Victims’ Rights Amendment, we’re entitled to these answers. I have recently been told by the DOC, that this behavior is not DOC policy and that these two individuals have been reprimanded for their actions.
Beth Schwartzapfel: As the parents of the victim, it is reasonable to be angry, and it’s reasonable to want answers. It’s important to acknowledge that.
But there’s another person who spoke that day, claiming to be a victim of Jake’s: Addam Gross, the ex-husband of Jake’s wife Marta, and the father of Marta’s two children.
To be clear, until this point, Addam had had nothing to do with Jake’s case. He had no connection to the murder, to Eric Kane, or Eric’s family, or to Jake until his ex-wife, Marta, brought Jake into the picture for her and for their kids. And that is what made Addam get involved, more than two decades into Jake’s time in prison.
Addam Gross: My children have the right to not live in fear. They have the right to go to sleep and not wonder if they’re safe.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Marta and Addam had been divorced for ten years by this point. Co-parenting after their divorce was never warm, but it wasn’t hostile until 2014. By then, Marta and Jake were already married, but Addam didn’t know it, and neither did the kids, at first.
Olivia: And then I was like, “Oh, well, if you guys are married, like, shouldn’t we meet him?”
Beth Schwartzapfel: Marta and Addam’s daughter Olivia is 20 now, but she was 12 at the time. She and her younger brother had talked to Jake on the phone, and written letters. But they didn’t really know him.
Olivia: And I knew she was, like, hesitant about it, but like, obviously, like, we are so young, we didn’t understand why, but we did meet him.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Olivia said she remembers talking and laughing together, playing Uno and buying junk food from the vending machines in the prison’s visiting area. She wondered if meeting Jake would be awkward, but it wasn’t at all, they both said.
Jake Wideman: After the visit, I went back to my little living area and I had tears in my eyes just because it had gone so beautifully. And it was and I felt like it was the beginning of something wonderful.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Addam was furious. Not only had Marta never told him about Jake, she hadn’t asked his permission to bring the children to the prison, either. So that visit marked the beginning of years of a bitter battle — one in which Addam would ally himself with the Kanes and directly insert himself into Jake’s case.
Marta DeSoto: When I took my kids to the prison to visit Jake, that same night, he called me and he was very threatening, and he said — he said something, “Your life is about to change.” And he hung up the phone.
Beth Schwartzapfel: This was the beginning of Addam’s unprecedented involvement in Jake’s case. And the ex-husband of Jake’s current wife was about to change her life and Jake’s.
Addam told the kids he was going to petition for full custody. He told them Jake was a murderer, and they weren’t safe around him. He showed them information about Jake’s crime on the internet.
Olivia: So we were confused how like — how like we met someone today and we had a great time just playing Uno and whatever. And then like, he’s some Jeffrey Dahmer person, you know. And we were very conflicted by that.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Remember the private investigator who was following Jake around? The P.I. wasn’t hired by the Kanes. He was hired by Addam Gross.
I reached out to Addam Gross to ask for his side of the story, and he declined to talk to me. But one byproduct of a protracted and bitter custody dispute is court documents, and there are a lot of them. So just about everything Marta told me I was able to verify in other ways.
In the coming months, Addam reported Marta to the state’s psychologist licensing board, alleging that she had violated her code of ethics by being with Jake. They had already resolved a similar complaint, in 2012, so they dismissed his complaint.
Addam had another conversation too. He told a local TV reporter that a psychologist married to a murderer was making a very good living doing contract work for government agencies, like Child Protective Services, or CPS. One day in 2016, Marta got a call.
Marta DeSoto: So, I was working at my house dictating reports for, usually, CPS. And I get this call. And he said something like, “Are you Dr. DeSoto?” Or something to that effect. I said yes. He says, “What makes you think that you can do assessments for CPS when you’re bringing a child killer into your home?”
Beth Schwartzapfel: Marta was shocked, she said. She felt like she didn’t have enough oxygen. The reporter, Dave Biscobing, asked if she wanted to comment. She could barely figure out how to speak, let alone what to say. The segment aired that same night.
ABC15 Anchor 1: ABC15 for the story you’re about to see.
ABC15 Anchor 2: It involves this convicted murderer and his wife, a woman who had an important job in our state and was paid a lot of taxpayer money.
ABC15 Anchor 1: But not anymore. That’s because of what ABC15 investigator Dave Biscobing just uncovered.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Within 30 minutes of the reporter’s call — before the segment had even aired — she started getting termination notices.
Marta DeSoto: Dear Dr. DeSoto, pursuant to the uniform... Would you be available this afternoon to have a telephone discussion... Is terminated effective February 11, 2016... This termination was done with the best interest of the state.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Within 10 days of the segment airing on ABC, Marta had no work. Over the next two years she kept applying for jobs, but nothing panned out. Her savings and then her retirement account dwindled.
In the meantime Addam managed to get himself and his children formally named as victims in the official records of the Arizona Department of Corrections, also known as ADC.
Kathryn Blades Ptak: So in the case of Mr. Gross neither he nor his children are victims, but ADC chose in this case to treat him as a victim.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Kathryn Blades Ptak was the executive director of the parole board. As an attorney she is very familiar with the state’s victims bill of rights. Arizona provides a wide range of protections for victims in its constitution.
Kathyrn Blades Ptak: That then gives you certain notification rights. So, like, he was notified of when the hearings were. And you have a statutory right to be heard at any hearing where release is being considered.
Beth Schwartzapfel: It says that a victim is the person against whom a crime has been committed, or, if they are killed, the person’s spouse, parent, child or other lawful representative. In other words, the ex-husband of the wife of someone who committed murder is not a victim under the law.
Eventually Jake’s attorneys had Addam and the kids removed as victims. And Olivia says now she was never scared of Jake, despite what her dad said.
Olivia: For once, we get to, like, speak our truth. It’s not our dad saying we’re deathly afraid of him because that was never, ever, the truth.
Beth Schwartzapfel: But for years he came to Jake’s parole board hearings and begged the board to protect his children. That included at the six month check-in in 2017, while Jake was out on home arrest, when his parole officer testified that he was doing very well.
Despite warnings from Addam Gross and from the Kanes about how dangerous Jake was — despite whatever accusations parole officials had received behind the scenes — the evidence the board heard at that hearing was that Jake had not violated any rules. But that didn’t mean major changes weren’t coming.
Jake’s records show that that night, Jake’s parole officer, Daniel Pereda, typed in all caps, “NEEDS CLOSER SUPERVISION.”
Was that because of complaints by the Kanes and Addam Gross at his hearing? Was it prompted by those accusations his parole officer had warned him about — that he had been breaking those rules? Parole officials never found that any of them were true. They also never wrote in Jake’s records why they thought he needed closer supervision. What we do know is days later Jake was assigned a new parole officer, Patrick Pogue. He’s the one who hung up on Quincy and me in the last episode. In his first few days on the case, Pogue got more than half a dozen calls from both Sandy Kane and Addam Gross, records show.
A top lawyer for the corrections department asked for all of Jake’s GPS data from his entire time on home arrest up to that point and on a weekly basis going forward, according to emails I obtained through records requests.
I want to pause for a moment to explain just how unusual this is. In any given month, Arizona has something like 5,000 people on parole and home arrest, not to mention 33,000 people in their prisons. The Department of Corrections is in charge of them all. And for a top attorney in the department to personally review the GPS coordinates of one man on home arrest who in six months had not committed a single violation was extraordinary.
Admittedly it’s a high-profile case and Pereda had reviewed Jake’s GPS data every week, and concluded that he was following all the rules, according to his own notes. Records show that after that six month check-in, a top department supervisor also went back and reviewed his coordinates, and also concluded he hadn’t violated any rules.
But corrections officials weren’t the only ones reviewing Jake’s GPS data.
Someone else had also been poring over the information from Jake’s ankle monitor: Sandy Kane and Addam Gross.
Sandra Lines: Just shows you how angry they are to go out there and track his every move
This is Sandra Lines, one of the parole board members who voted to grant Jake parole. She had retired from the board by this time, but I told her the story later.
Sandra Lines: That is, in my view, over the line of being angry. That’s almost sick.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Kane and Gross paired the GPS data with information from the private investigator and drew up a 19-page memo with a list of alleged parole violations. One, for example, is that while Jake was at the halfway house — actually a cluster of buildings around a green — he was “all over this large complex. If he is supposed to be restricted to his residence, his residence is not the entire complex.” Gross also claimed Jake was lingering outside his kids’ schools.
According to records, parole officers did check this and found that Olivia’s school was on a main thoroughfare, it would be hard for Jake to avoid passing by it — so this was not a violation.
I asked a number of people, both inside and outside Arizona’s criminal justice system, about the Department of Corrections providing Jake’s GPS data to Sandy Kane. This is the board’s former executive director again, Kathryn Blades Ptak.
Kathryn Blades Ptak: Mr. Kane and Mr. Gross were given Mr. Wideman’s GPS coordinates, which it’s my understanding that ADC always considered those confidential until Mr. Kane requested them.
Beth Schwartzapfel: That’s right, Kathryn said the department went against its usual practices when Sandy and Addam asked for that information. No one I asked had ever heard of GPS data being provided to anyone outside the department.
Now, the public records law doesn’t say the Department can’t provide GPS data. But the law does give state agencies broad discretion to withhold records in the interest of privacy and confidentiality. Any court would say that GPS data would fall into those categories, one of Arizona’s leading experts on first amendment law told me.
Just to double check, I submitted my own records request. I pulled the names of three people currently on home arrest at random from a database, and requested their GPS coordinates for the previous six months. Four days later — lightning speed by Arizona public records standards — I got a reply that said the department “does not produce GPS coordinate data for operational security reasons.”
Once they assembled their report on all of Jake’s supposed violations, Sandy Kane pressed officials to launch an investigation into their allegations.
One email, addressed to Jake’s parole officer and the department’s top attorney, began, “Patrick & Brad.” Kane urged them not to confront Wideman with the alleged violations in their report right away, but rather, “At the point in time when you are making a recommendation to the Board about his going back to prison, he can be confronted with all of the damning details.”
Patty Garin: I think that’s highly unusual.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Patty Garin, Jake’s long-time attorney, was shocked when she got a copy of this email in response to a public records request.
Patty Garin: Highly unusual that somebody who has a family member involved in a case that’s before them to be writing, you know, Dear Brad letters to the general counsel of the DOC about his personal request with respect to the case and what he wants to have happen. Yeah, that’s unusual.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Other things were also highly unusual.
Top supervisors in the parole department began meeting with Charles Ryan, the Director of the Department of Corrections, specifically to review how they were supervising Jake, according to several sources.
Holly Dorman: I have had varying conversations with Mr. Ryan in the past about individuals who are of a high profile nature. Inmate Wideman happens to be high profile.
Beth Schwartzapfel: That’s Holly Dorman, a parole supervisor, testifying before the parole board later. She said, “There were apparently issues in his status conference, which may have prompted an inquiry on the part of the director.” The status conference, remember, is the hearing where Jake’s first parole officer, Daniel Pereda, said Jake was doing very well, but Sandy Kane said he should never have been let out in the first place.
Now, corrections Director Charles Ryan faced some pretty harsh criticism for the way he ran the department for years, beginning long before Jake’s case caused a flurry of activity among himself and his top deputies. When Ryan retired in 2019, the word many outlets used to describe him was “embattled.”
Cell doors in the prisons didn’t lock properly, prisoners died as a result of dangerous conditions.
KJZZ FM Anchor: Rat and Roach infestations, broken equipment, and frequent use of expired food…
ABC15 Anchor 1: An Arizona prison where the cell doors don’t lock.
ABC15 Anchor 2: A place that’s been called “Jurassic Park.”
Beth Schwartzapfel: The healthcare was “plainly grossly inadequate,” a federal judge found and prisoners in solitary confinement were deprived of “basic human needs.”
12 News Anchor: A judge found the state violated inmates’ rights to healthcare for years…
Beth Schwartzapfel: Now, in 2017, the corrections director — a man who oversaw all of this violence and chaos and dysfunction at the state’s prisons — drew up a memo informing everyone under house arrest that things were going to get stricter. Excursions beyond necessities like work and doctor’s appointments were now known as “incentive activities” and they had to be earned.
Jake Wideman: There seemed to be a natural arc and a very logical arc to things where a given parole officer would start you off pretty restrictive. And then as time went on and you built up trust, there would be a gradual kind of loosening up. Where gradually he gave me and Marta permission to do more and more things. And then when Pogue came on the case, that became reversed.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Jake’s new parole officer, Patrick Pogue, told Jake he and Marta would not be allowed to go out for an anniversary brunch he had already given them permission for, and Jake would have to cancel his gym membership, records show. Pogue also told Jake he was visiting his apartment complex’s filtered water station too often — he’d now have to get drinking water once a week.
Mike Kimerer: They put very big restrictions on him, more than I ever see, like how you had to travel or couldn’t travel. And it just — tough restrictions.
Beth Schwartzapfel: This is Mike Kimerer, a longtime Phoenix defense attorney who represented Jake alongside Patty for over 30 years.
Mike Kimerer: Were they legal? They probably could put those on because they could almost do anything to you when you’re in that situation. But they were tough on him and it was just like he was getting set up.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Now, in all my efforts to reach Arizona corrections staffers, I did manage to speak to one former employee. This employee told me that the top attorney of the corrections department was in contact with the Kanes and held meetings about their concerns. “I had never participated in a meeting where the victim’s family was directly considered in that way,” he said.
This person did not want his name used and didn’t even want me to specify what department he worked for, given what a mess this whole thing was. But his job included regular communication with director Charles Ryan.
For Jake and his attorneys, the problem wasn’t that the victim’s family was being heard — that’s their right under the constitution. The problem was that the department shouldn’t be making decisions according to the victim’s wishes — at least not their wishes alone. But were they?
We tried to ask former corrections director Charles Ryan about this. We wanted to know whether pressure from the Kanes had anything to do with how the department handled his case.
After Ryan didn’t respond to several emails or voicemails, WBUR producer Quincy Walters and I went to his house in Tempe, a Phoenix suburb.
Beth Schwartzapfel, in car: Should we look down here?
Quincy Walters: All these houses have — wow, these are huge. A lot of cameras on these houses.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Yes.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Leaving aside Ryan’s approach to running the department, it was an incident shortly after he retired that made Quincy and I a little wary of knocking on his door. In January of last year, his wife called 911.
ABC15 Ashley Paredez : …telling dispatchers she was in the family room when she heard a loud noise. Then finding this scene along with her husband.
Kathleen Ryan: He’s just standing there, his hand was bloody...
ABC15 Ashley Paredez: In the master bathroom by himself.
911 dispatcher: And was he talking to you at all?
Kathleen Ryan: No, but he was standing up and then I guess he still had the gun. So, I just turned around and went to the other part of the house. I didn’t know what he was going to do.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Ryan had been drinking, and, his wife later discovered, blasted a hole in their bathroom sink.
ABC15 Ashley Paredez: What happened next was captured on body camera video.
Police officer: Charles, let me see both of your hands. Hands up. Let me see both of your hands right now. Call it out.
ABC15 Ashley Paredez: Ryan Seen peeking out behind a door leading into the garage.
Police officer: I can’t see what that is. That’s a gun. Drop the gun! Charles! Drop it! He was pointing it at us. Put it out.
Beth Schwartzapfel: After a three-hour armed standoff, Ryan was arrested. He’s since pled not guilty to two felony weapons charges. And while thousands of people sit in Arizona prisons for technical violations like missing appointments, Ryan has never spent a single night behind bars. He’s been allowed to await legal proceedings at home.
So that’s where we went to find him.
Quincy Walters: And do you want to leave the car on?
Beth Schwartzapfel: In case we have to run away?
Quincy Walters: Yeah.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Oh God.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Hi there. Is Mr. Ryan home?
Kathleen Ryan: Who are you?
Beth Schwartzapfel: Oh. We’re reporters —
Kathleen Ryan: No, he’s not home.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Okay. Could I leave a —
Beth Schwartzapfel: We’ll be right back.
Beth Schwartzapfel: In June of 2017, Jake had been out of prison seven months. He completed all of his required sessions at the corrections department’s mental health provider, which everyone calls CHC, and his parole officer asked him to contact Dr. McCaine to set up an appointment for therapy. Dr. McCaine, you might remember, is the therapist Jake told the board about, who he met with while he was still locked up.
And Jake did. A few days later, Jake sent McCaine an email, saying he “would very much like to resume a counseling relationship.”
Soon McCaine replied, asking about Jake’s insurance coverage. He provided his phone number and encouraged Jake to leave a message if he didn’t answer.
But Jake didn’t have health insurance, and he told his parole officer he was concerned about paying for the sessions out of pocket.
Jake Wideman: You know, I was paying for the apartment and all the associated expenses. Marta was using — was deep into her savings and just trying to continue to pay for her home and to support the kids and support herself and that kind of thing.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Jake’s father had paid for McCaine’s sessions while Jake was in prison, but now that he finally had a job, it was important to Jake to begin supporting himself financially, he said.
Jake Wideman: My family had been unbelievably supportive. They had literally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on my legal defense over the years. They were getting older. They were both retired. I didn’t want to continue to be a financial burden to them, though they would have never phrased it as a burden. I wanted to be independent.
Beth Schwartzapfel: The other issue is Jake’s job — the customer service job that he was really enjoying — was more than an hour from Dr. McCaine’s office via public transportation, and his boss said he couldn’t leave for hours in the middle of the day. Remember how hard it had been for Jake to get this job? And remember all those parole conditions? One of them was to “seek, obtain, and maintain employment” — which is to say, he could be sent back to prison if he lost his job.
So Jake asked Pogue, the new parole officer he was assigned to after his parole board check-in, if he could go back to CHC. That was the mental health contractor he had gone to after he got out. It would be free, and he could go on the weekends, so it wouldn’t interfere with work.
And Pogue said he’d look into it. Pogue’s records include several conversations over the course of weeks when he told Jake he would talk to his supervisors about whether CHC was an option.
But this was not true, according to Pogue’s supervisor. The department had already decided not to let Jake go back to CHC. The supervisor, Holly Dorman, admitted this later when she was cross-examined by Jake’s lawyer.
Patty Garin: When did you make the decision that CHC was not going to be possible for Mr. Wideman? When was that decision made?
Holly Dorman: Immediately.
Patty Garin: Immediately?
Holly Doorman: Upon his completion of CHC, that was not ever an option.
Patty Garin: And why did you permit Mr. Pogue to tell Mr. Wideman that he was looking into whether CHC was an option?
Holly Dorman: It is commonplace for our officers to be evasive or vague...
Beth Schwartzapfel: “It is commonplace for our officers to be evasive or vague about answers in order to prevent absconding and to continue to protect the public, Doorman say’s there. So Mr. Pogue would say ‘I’ll check with my supervisor or I’ll look into it.’ It’s a tactic and a method for our officers to maintain safety for themselves.”
What Holly is saying there is the department had decided that Jake couldn’t go to CHC — but they had also decided not to tell him that. As far as Jake knew, he was still waiting to hear about CHC. But his parole officer wanted him to call Dr. McCaine anyway. One Monday in the middle of July, Jake told Pogue he would call Dr. McCaine. And Pogue told Jake to call him by the next day and let him know when he set up the appointment, according to Pogue’s notes.
So Jake called Dr. McCaine’s office that next day — twice. The calls are on his phone bill. Dr. McCaine didn’t answer, so Jake left a message. He then called Pogue to let him know.
This may sound like a lot of back and forth about something that for most of us is a minor annoyance — how many phone calls have you made to doctor’s offices and insurance companies? Jake didn’t know it, but whether or not he made this one appointment with Dr. McCaine — and quickly — could determine if he spent the rest of his life in prison.
According to Jake and his lawyers in legal filings, when he called Pogue to tell him he’d left a message for Dr. McCaine, Pogue’s answer was, “perfect.” But according to Pogue, what he said was this — and I’m reading from his notes here — “The offender was directed to schedule an intake/assessment by Tuesday 7/18/17” — that same day.
In court papers, Jake’s lawyers argue, “Their intent was to deliberately deceive and mislead Mr. Wideman at every stage of the discussions about counseling.” This is his attorney, Patty Garin, at a board hearing later:
Patty Garin: They all knew CHC wasn’t going to work, and they made a group decision to not tell him...
Beth Schwartzapfel: “They all knew CHC wasn’t going to work, and they made a group decision to not tell him,” Patty said there. “And they didn’t tell him, probably knowing the effect that would have on him; that he’d keep hoping that CHC would work, and not work quite as hard to get ahold of Dr. McCaine because he believed they were working on CHC.”
Over the next few days, while Jake was waiting for a call back from McCaine, an attorney named Daniel Struck got a letter from the corrections department. Struck is a partner at a private law firm in Phoenix.
Now, the Department of Corrections has its own in-house team of lawyers. But occasionally, in especially large or complex cases, they turn to Dan Struck’s law firm. For example, Struck is the department’s lead lawyer in a decade-long class-action lawsuit involving the prison system’s massive, dysfunctional, medical system.
The issue of Jake’s home arrest was hardly large or complex. But the department hired Struck at a rate of $235 an hour to take it on. Several people, including several former board members, told me they’d never heard of the department using lawyers at all for a potential parole violation, let alone a private lawyer.
Dear Mr. Struck, the letter says.
Actor Reading: Pursuant to the Agreement for Outside Counsel between your firm and the State of Arizona, you are appointed to serve as outside counsel to the Arizona Department of Corrections. ADC Community Corrections officers will be arresting, within the next 48 hours, an inmate on home arrest.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Meantime, Dr. McCaine did not even know yet that Jake had called him. He testified later that no one checks his voicemail except him, and he hadn’t been in the office much that week:
John McCaine: Here’s what nobody knows except me: That I gave Mr. Wideman the direct extension to my office at my desk. Which means when he called that number, either I would answer the phone or no one would answer. That’s because of privacy.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Pogue drew up a warrant for Jake’s arrest. The arrest warrant said he “has violated the conditions of his supervision and has lapsed or is probably about to lapse into criminal ways or company.”
That’s what the law requires the department to show if they’re going to accuse someone of violating their parole, and bring them back to prison. Not just that they have violated one of the dozens of conditions they agreed to when they got out, but also that they have lapsed or are about to lapse into criminal ways or company.
The proof Pogue lists on the warrant is that Jake failed to follow the directive of his parole officer to schedule an intake appointment with Dr. McCaine.
That is to say, he called Dr. McCaine, but he didn’t receive a call back in time. And therefore he was a danger to the community. They brought Jake back to prison because he didn’t make an appointment on that particular day.
Michael Johnson: Ms. Garin, let me just interrupt because his violation is not that he refused to go to counseling, his violation was that he did not make the appointment
Beth Schwartzapfel: This is parole board member Michael Johnson talking to Jake’s lawyer Patty Garin at a hearing, later.
Patty Garin: He attempted to make the appointment.
Michael Johnson: Okay. That’s — that’s the violation. That’s — that’s the violation.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Here’s Patty at that same hearing.
Patty Garin: It does amount to a set-up, to a gotcha...
Beth Schwartzapfel: “It does amount to a set-up, to a gotcha,” Patty says there. “You’re waiting, you’re sitting here waiting for us to tell you about CHC” — she means the department’s mental health contractor — and you’re waiting for Dr. McCaine to call you back, and so, OK, you didn’t make an appointment on this one specific day that we told you to, you’re under arrest.
Patty Garin: If you look at this, this is crazy. He gives them the directive on one day to make an appointment with a private psychiatrist by the next day?
Beth Schwartzapfel: OK McCaine is actually a Ph.D. level psychologist, not a psychiatrist, but he is still a busy person who is hard to get an appointment with. While the message from Jake was waiting on McCaine’s private voicemail, he was making rounds and seeing patients at various other clinics. It was four days before he even got Jake’s message.
Now, the warrant makes it sound like Pogue had been asking Jake for weeks to make an appointment and Jake had refused or tried to weasel out of it. But Jake says — and Pogue’s record of their regular meetings reflect — that it had been an ongoing conversation about whether and how Jake could manage seeing Dr. McCaine. The notes mention Jake’s concerns about cost, about insurance, about McCaine not seeing patients on weekends. Jake says those records — the department calls them “chrono notes” — make it seem like Pogue was starting to get impatient after a while, when Jake said the conversations were cordial all along. In one note, Pogue said he asked Jake if he was going to contact Dr. McCaine or not. That last phrase a sort of ominous-sounding threat.
Jake Wideman: We went through all the reasons why CHC was a better option for me than — than McCaine was. He agreed with me, which he had done before, which also he doesn’t put in his notes, but he said, ‘oh, no, I agree. You know, with your financial and work situation, we need — to we need to get an answer about CHC.’ And then he asked me again. He said, ‘So are you going to contact McCaine?’ And without an ‘or not’ or anything, I mean, it’s just — it’s just a cordial conversation. So, I volunteered to call him the very next day. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll call him tomorrow, first thing.’ And all — he said was, ‘Well, just call me when you’re done and let me know the result of the call.’
Beth Schwartzapfel: We ran all this by parole officer Pogue and his supervisor Holly Dorman by the way — this claim that Jake and his lawyers make that they deliberately deceived him. Pogue did not get back to us. Dorman no longer works for the Arizona Department of Corrections — in fact, she no longer even lives in Arizona. In 2021 she started work at another corrections agency clear across the country. Dorman declined, saying this podcast is biased and “supports a convicted murderer.” But before telling me not to contact her anymore, she said, “Remember — he is a murderer. He has been in prison his entire adult life. He has successfully manipulated and compromised two professional women while in prison. These are facts, not an opinion.”
Sounds like she was saying Jake was not to be trusted. That he deserved whatever was coming to him. But she didn’t answer my question about whether she and Pogue tricked Jake into violating home arrest, as he and his lawyers argue in court filings. No one would, even after a year of asking the question to everyone involved in this case.
Beth Schwartzapfel: One week from the day after he left a message for Dr. McCaine, Jake was standing outside his office taking a break. Jake said what happened next was like something out of a bad cops and robbers movie — a car comes careening around the corner and screeches to a stop in front of the curb where he was standing.
Jake Wideman: And, you know, these four POs jump out and start surrounding me and I’m just essentially standing there in shock. I have no idea.
Beth Schwartzapfel: Jake said at first he thought it must be some sort of drill. Pereda was there along with Pogue and several other people.
Jake Wideman: You know, my mind is racing. I’m trying to think, what did I do? What is this about?
Beth Schwartzapfel: He turns to Pogue, completely bewildered.
Jake Wideman: And I’m like, “What’s going on?” And they just start saying, “Oh, you messed up. You messed up. I don’t know why you didn’t set that appointment.”
Beth Schwartzapfel: When Jake was surrounded out of the blue by a bunch of cop cars at the strip mall where he worked, in July of 2017, it was three years after Marta had brought her kids to the prison to meet Jake — when Addam told her her life was about to change. It was just 8 and a half months after he had gotten out. And just days after he had left Dr. McCaine a voicemail to set up an appointment.
In Jake’s mind, not making this appointment was, at best, just a petty misunderstanding. At worst, it was a pretext for the department to bring Jake back to prison, as he and his attorneys argue. But corrections officials say that Jake’s failure to make the appointment with Dr. McCaine was far more serious than it seemed.
At a hearing later, Holly Dorman, the parole supervisor, said that Jake had been making excuses to avoid seeing Dr. McCaine. “The fact that in his release hearing, he had said that money was no object and that he was excited about the work of Dr. McCaine. And then all of a sudden money became an issue and he's not able to afford it, led me to believe that he was engaging in behavior that was manipulative in some fashion,” she said.
Holly Dorman: Regardless of what his ultimate intent was, what I saw was somebody who was trying to avoid compliance with regard to the counseling. And that’s something that I can’t allow to continue because I don’t know what he could do. I know he’s capable of murder.
Beth Schwartzapfel: By not making the appointment, Jake was “trying to avoid compliance,” she said there. “And that’s something that I can’t allow to continue because I don’t know what he could do. I know he’s capable of murder.”
You know who was confused about this line of reasoning, though? Dr. McCaine.
John McCaine: Knowing Jake, my sense that if he had called the next day or the following day, he would have felt like he was pestering me. Okay? Yeah. I’m still mystified that something like that — a phone message that wasn’t returned in three days somehow gets turned into “Well, now that means this person is manipulative and cannot live in free society.” That’s — that’s a pretty strong reach.
Beth Schwartzapfel: But Dr McCaine’s opinion would not be enough to keep Jake out of prison again. The question is: Will he be there for life? And might a new revelation about a trauma in Jake’s past shed new light on why he did what he did all those years ago and, potentially, change his future?
Jake Wideman: I think the other kinds of emotional traumas I’m describing have their roots in some incidents that I haven’t spoken about publicly before and don’t really intend to do so.
Beth Schwartzapfel: That’s next time, in the last episode of “Violation.”
“Violation” is a production of WBUR in Boston and The Marshall Project.
Editing of the show comes from Geraldine Sealey, who is also managing editor of The Marshall Project, and Ben Brock Johnson, executive producer of WBUR Podcasts. Additional editing, project management and web production from Amy Gorel. Quincy Walters is our producer. Mix, sound design and original music composition by Matt Reed and Paul Vaitkus. Fact checking help from Kate Gallagher at The Marshall Project.
I’m Beth Schwartzapfel, your reporter and host. I’ll talk to you next week.
Reporter & Host: Beth Schwartzapfel; Managing Editor: Geraldine Sealey; Executive Producer: Ben Brock Johnson; Producer: Quincy Walters; Editor: Amy Gorel; Sound Designer: Matt Reed; Production Manager: Paul Vaitkus; Fact Checker: Kate Gallagher; Illustrator: Diego Mallo