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Former Wilson County, Tennessee Corrections Officers
Convicted of Civil Rights Charges

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Two former Wilson County, Tennessee corrections officers were convicted in federal court of violating the civil rights of detainees at the Wilson County Jail in Lebanon, Tennessee the Justice Department announced today. One defendant was acquitted.

The federal jury convicted defendant Patrick Marlowe of two counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 242, deprivation of civil rights, for participating in the beating of Walter Kuntz and then denying him medical care. The jury further found that Marlowe’s failure to seek medical care resulted in Kuntz’s death. The jury also convicted Marlowe of four additional violations of 18 U.S.C. § 242 for the beatings of four other detainees and acquitted him of charges pertaining to another beating. In addition, the jury convicted both Marlowe and defendant Tommy Shane Conatser of violating 18 U.S.C. § 241 for conspiring together and with other jailers to assault detainees and then cover up their conduct with false reports. All of the convictions are felonies. Marlowe faces up to life imprisonment and up to $1,750,000 in fines. Conatser faces up to 10 years imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines.

“The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who abuse a position of trust to mistreat those in custody,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Such unlawful behavior undermines the tireless efforts of the vast majority of law enforcement officers throughout our nation who do a tough job with professionalism and courage.”

Marlowe is the former evening shift supervisor of the other defendants and leader of the conspiracy. Over the course of two years he and the co-defendants engaged in routine beatings of detainees held at the Wilson County Jail. Marlowe and other officers bragged about the beatings and filed false and misleading reports to cover up the assaults. On January 12, 2003, Marlowe and other defendants severely beat inmate Walter Kuntz after he was brought into the jail. After seriously injuring Kuntz, Marlowe failed to call for medical care for several hours as Kuntz lay unconscious on the floor of the jail. Kuntz eventually died from his injuries and the delay in receiving medical care.

Six other former Wilson County correctional officers have pleaded guilty to felony charges relating to violations of the civil rights of inmates at the Wilson County Jail. On November 13, 2003, William Westmoreland pleaded guilty to charges involving a July 2001 assault on a detainee, and Travis Bradley pleaded guilty to lying to an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about another incident in which guards at the jail assaulted a detainee. On April 9, 2004, John McKinney pleaded guilty to charges relating to a September 2002 assault on a detainee that McKinney witnessed but did not report in an internal report that he prepared regarding the incident. On June 9, 2004, Christopher McCathern pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge for assaulting a detainee, Vincent Gooch, in February 2002, and has been sentenced to 41 months of imprisonment. On December 28, 2005, Gary Hale pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge for his role in the beating of Kuntz. On January 3, 2006, defendant Robert Ferrell pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge for his role in assaulting detainee Dartanian McGee on July 20, 2002.

Assistant Attorney General Kim commended the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Tennessee District Attorney General's Office for the 15th Judicial District for their involvement in this investigation and prosecution of alleged civil rights violations at the Wilson County Jail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Cohen and Civil Rights Division attorneys Gerard Hogan and Stephen Curran prosecuted these cases.