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Sheriff Gary Maha is defending the Genesee County Jail after a scathing state report into the death of an inmate at the jail was released.

The report, from the State Department of Corrections, sharply criticizes the local jail for failing to recognize an inmate’s medical needs, failure to develop a treatment plan for an at-risk inmate and a careless process for administering medications.

Maha says the jail is not “incompetent” or grossly negligent, as described in the report. He says the DOC issues similar reports whenever an inmate death occurs.

“It’s easy to Monday-morning-quarterback these types of situations,” Maha said. “I will say that we don’t agree with all of the report and certain language in the report is language used by the state division of corrections and not based on any determination of fact or evidentiary type of information.”

The report investigated the death of 42-year-old Nikko Gambino, a former drug addict from Wyoming County. Gambino was serving a weekend sentence back in July of 2011 when he was found unresponsive in his cell and later died at UMMC.

“They (DOC) didn’t take into account that this guy was a drug abuser, and a drug user for many, many years that played a part in his death as far as I am concerned,” Maha said. “If I recall – and I don’t have the report here in front of me – the time the last corrections officer checked on him and he uttered he was fine until the time that he expired was a very short period of time – 15, 20 minutes.”

Maha said his office received the report in December 2012 and has implemented several of the recommendations. Maha says this is a situation the jail is accustomed to.

“We have inmates everyday that go into withdrawal – most of the time it’s alcohol withdrawal,” Maha said. “We have to monitor those inmates closely and we do.”

The report was revealed by the Democrat and Chronicle under the Freedom of Information Law.

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