Two former Maryland correctional officers who conspired with their peers to commit and cover up the assault of an inmate at Roxbury Correctional Institution (RCI) in Hagerstown, Md., were sentenced on April 17.
U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Jeremy McCusker to serve 21 months in prison and ordered Walter Scott Steele to serve four months in prison and to complete 40 hours of community service.
McCusker previously pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law and conspiring to obstruct justice, and Steele pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice as well as making false statements to federal authorities in connection with the March 9, 2008, assault of Kenneth Davis, an RCI inmate.
The pair also testified against their co-conspirator, former RCI officer James Kalbflesh, who has been convicted for his role in the assault, which took place during a midnight shift, and in the subsequent cover- up.
During Kalbflesh’s trial and in court documents filed in connection with their respective guilty pleas, McCusker and Steele each admitted they were present when other officers at RCI met during the midnight shift and agreed to attack Davis in retaliation for a prior altercation between Davis and another officer.
McCusker and other correctional officers then entered Davis’ cell and battered the inmate while Steele and another officer looked on.
The band of vengeful prison officers later met at a restaurant and concocted a story to conceal their involvement in and knowledge of the assault on Davis, and provided false information to federal authorities during the investigation.
“The overwhelming majority of correctional officers serve their communities with honor and professionalism,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division in a statement. “The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who engage in criminal misconduct.”
To date, 16 current or former officers at RCI have been convicted in connection with a series of assaults that Davis suffered on March 8 and 9, 2008. Four former RCI officers still await sentencing before Judge Bredar.