FISHKILL, N.Y. -- Several correction officers at a Fishkill prison have been charged with beating an inmate there in 2013, according to Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Two of the five charged in the incident at the Downstate Correctional Facility and subsequent cover-up have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with investigators, Bharara said Wednesday.
The other three were arrested by the FBI early Wednesday.
Kevin Moore, the 54-year-old inmate, was set upon by the guards after he objected to being confined in a mental health cell, called himself a “monster,” and threatened to call a lawyer, Bharara said.
He was then beaten so badly that he suffered a collapsed lung, five fractured ribs and broken bones in his face.
Moore also had wounds to his back, hands, legs and feet.
One of the accused officers even ripped a clump of dreadlocks from Moore's head for a "souvenir," the indictment said.
Afterwards, the bloodied inmate was dragged to a cell and left there to suffer overnight with no medical attention, the indictment charges.
Moore spent 17 days in the hospital recovering from his injuries.
Under indictment are: 42-year-old Saugerties resident Kathy Scott, aka Kathy Todd, a former sergeant; and George Santiago Jr., 34, of Fremont Center, and 31-year-old Carson Morris of Coconut Creek, Fla., both former correction officers.
Scott and Santiago were to appear in federal court today in White Plains. Morris was arrested in Florida and appeared today in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.
According to Bharara, all three defendants are charged with federal civil rights offenses, including conspiring to deprive the victim of his Constitutional rights and depriving the victim of his Constitutional rights under color of law.
Scott, Santiago and Morris are also charged with two counts of obstructing justice by conspiring to file false reports and filing false reports with DOCCS.
The charge of deprivation of rights under color of law carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years; the charge of conspiracy to deprive of civil rights, also carried a maximum 10-year sentence.
They could also get sentenced to 20 years behind bars for falsifying documents and five years for conspiring to falsify documents, Bharara said.
The other two defendants, former correction officers Donald Cosman, 30, of Marlboro, and Andrew Lowery, 33, of Hopewell Junction, were charged by “felony Informations,” Bharara said.
According to Bharara, Cosman and Lowery have both pleaded guilty to four counts: conspiring to deprive the victim of his Constitutional rights; depriving the victim of his Constitutional rights under color of law; obstructing justice by conspiring to file false reports and filing false reports.
The conspiracy charges were based on all five agreeing to concoct a story that one of the officers had been injured by Moore "at the beginning of the incident, in order to justify the excessive force used," the indictment alleges.
Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady appeared with Bharara at the press conference announcing the charges.
“Inmates may be walled off from the public, but they are not walled off from the Constitution,” Bharara said. “And when correction officers viciously beat an inmate in their charge, then collude among themselves to cover it up -- as alleged here -- they trample on the Constitution and the very laws they have sworn to uphold.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said that the accused officers used their boots and batons to pummel Moore into submission because he had dared to speak up.
“What we see in this In an outward symbol of inner immorality, one of the officers allegedly boasted of the group’s illicit conduct by referring to the dreadlocks ripped from Moore’s scalp as souvenirs,” Sweeney said.
Calling the beating “outrageous,” Sweeney said the guard’s alleged behavior “won’t be tolerated within our criminal justice system.”
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