This Prison Drug Smuggler Savagely Beat, Pepper-Sprayed Corrections Officer
A prison drug smuggler who savagely beat and pepper-sprayed a corrections officer gets to stay behind bars for another nine years.
On Tuesday, Aug. 2, in Abingdon, Virginia, Senior US District Judge James P. Jones sentenced Michael Aaron Selvidge to 110 months in prison for smuggling contraband narcotics into US Penitentiary Lee in 2019, plus 41 months for assaulting the correctional officer six months ago at the Western Virginia Regional Jail in Salem.
The sentences will run concurrently. Selvidge, 38, had faced up to 55 years in a federal penitentiary if he’d received maximum consecutive sentences for all of his recent crimes.
Selvidge inked a pair of plea deals with federal prosecutors in late 2021 and early 2022 that led to authorities tossing one drug distribution charge.
His attorney did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Since his first conviction as a 12-year-old boy for shoplifting, Selvidge has compiled a long and increasingly violent rap sheet, including a six-year stretch for possession of a firearm by a felon.
He was serving that sentence at US Penitentiary Lee when he got nabbed on Aug. 31, 2019, taking delivery of Buprenorphine strips from a visitor. That triggered Selvidge’s drug charges.
On Jan. 16, 2022, Selvidge was awaiting trial for the narcotics case at Western Virginia Regional Jail. Corrections Officer Curtis Canzone was making his rounds, saw Selvidge, and then ordered him to return to his cell.
But the inmate threatened the guard and then began pummeling him with his fists.
Canzone tried to repel Selvidge with his canister of pepper spray but dropped it on the floor. Selvidge pounced on it and emptied the container on the corrections officer’s face and body.
Then he hurled the spent canister at the guard.
“Every day I treat every inmate the same, as a human being because it is not my job to judge them for the actions that got them here,” Canzone wrote in a letter to the judge. “But on this day things will be forever different.
“Throughout my career I have always tried to be reasonable with inmates, not too harsh but not too lenient. But on this day things were very different,” he continued. “I resorted to all of my training to resolve whatever issue inmate [Selvidge] had going on. It failed. I gave simple and clear instructions, and it failed. I didn’t resort to threaten this inmate, the way my life was threatened. I even tried to leave the situation, so that it would not resort to violence. Despite all of my efforts to do so, I was met with violence for reasons I still do not know to this day.
“On this day I was forever scarred. However, despite inmate [Selvidge’s] efforts to put me down, I am still, and will continue, to be a correctional officer. I will learn more, get through this ordeal, and I will continue on. I always try to remember, ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’”
Like his rap sheet, Selvidge’s list of prison infractions leading up assaulting a corrections officer was lengthy and violent.
Between 2016 and 2020, he lost visitation, commissary, and phone privileges — or was thrown into Special Housing Units — for numerous incidents, including possessing and smuggling narcotics; using torn fabric as a prison “fishing line” to move contraband to lower cells; hiding a 5-inch metal bolt from his crutches; fighting; and assault.