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Local man’s story the topic of newly released movie

Published: Aug. 12, 2008 at 6:17 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2008 at 6:29 PM EDT
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From the set: Val Kilmer (left) and Richard Caruso
From the set: Val Kilmer (left) and Richard Caruso
Caruso (center) with some of the actors in "Felon"
Caruso (center) with some of the actors in "Felon"

By Nikki Gaskins - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A new movie hit stores Tuesday and features Richard Caruso, a local man from the Grand Strand.

The movie, "Felon," is based partly on Caruso's days as a prison guard at Corcoran State Prison in central California. The prison is considered one of the most dangerous prisons in the country.

The prison houses a number of high-profile inmates, including Charles Manson and the man who killed Bobby Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan.

Caruso plays a small role in the movie as a gang counselor. He helped write the film along with director, Ric Waugh.  The film, budgeted at $3 million, was shot for eight weeks in Santa Fe, NM.

One of the movie's most famous cast members includes, Val Kilmer; Stephen Dorff plays the film's main character, Wade Porter, a family man whose life is changed instantly when an intruder enters his home.

"He grabs a baseball bat and he hears noises down in the living room," Caruso said. "As he goes to the kitchen, a Hispanic male pushes him against the wall and runs out the front door."

According to Caruso, Porter then runs after the intruder. While doing so, the intruder pulls what appears to be a knife out from his waist.

"Wade then hits him with a baseball bat, accidently killing him, thinking it was a weapon being pulled."

But Caruso says the intruder was actually trying to give the man back Porter's wallet.  Porter was sentenced to Corcoran State Prison.

Caruso says you can blame it on a loophole in the law.

"The law doesn't protect you once you go outside your threshold, and a lot of people don't realize that," he said.

Caruso doesn't want to give away the movie's ending, but he hopes viewers take away one very important message: "What happened to Porter could happen to anybody."

Caruso worked at the prison from 1989 up until his retirement in 1998.  While there, the prison became the subject of a controversial FBI probe.

Corcoran houses a number a violent street gangs.  At the prison, gang members, even those from rival gangs, were allowed to exercise together, according to Caruso.

However, Caruso says, inmate gang members usually got into fights rather than actually exercise.  Caruso says when the fighting wouldn't stop, prison guards would use guns to fire at the inmates, which sometimes killed or severely injured gang inmates.

Caruso eventually "blew the whistle" on how some prison guards were treating prisoners.  An investigation by the FBI began and Caruso appeared on 60 Minutes with his story.

Caruso left California in 2001 and moved to Myrtle Beach in 2003.

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