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Overton County Sheriff’s Officers Sentenced for Violating Inmate’s Civil Rights

WASHINGTON – Former Overton County, Tenn., sheriff’s deputy Gary Grigg and Lt. Johnny Gann were sentenced late yesterday for their roles in violating the civil rights of an inmate detained in the Overton County Jail, the Justice Department announced. Two other co-defendants, Overton County Sheriff’s Jail Administrator Michael Gilpatrick and Lieutenant James Loftis, still await sentencing. Four Overton County law enforcement officers have either been convicted or pleaded guilty in this matter. For his role the crime, Grigg received 41 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. Grigg is report to begin his sentence on Jan. 19, 2007.

Gann who was placed on probation for two years with a special condition that he spend six months in home detention.

Grigg previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with Gilpatrick and Loftis to have the victim assaulted, and co-defendant Gann previously pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators during the investigation of this incident.

In October, Gilpatrick was found guilty of orchestrating the beating of an inmate at the request of Grigg, who was trying to find someone who would beat the inmate. Gann pleaded guilty for his role in covering up the episode.

“These law enforcement officers pledged to protect and serve, not to victimize and lie,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The criminal behavior of these aberrant officers seriously undermines the dedicated efforts of the vast majority of law enforcement officers who serve honorably.”

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. In fiscal year 2006, nearly 50 percent of the cases brought by the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division involved such prosecutions. Since fiscal year 2001, the Division has convicted 50 percent more defendants for excessive force and official misconduct than in the preceding six years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Cohen for the Middle District of Tennessee and Civil Rights Division attorneys Gerry Hogan and Jim Felte prosecuted this case for the government.