WASHINGTON – Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, together with Gregory White, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI, announced today the indictment of one former and two current officials at the Lucas County Jail in Toledo, Ohio.
The indictment charges former corrections officer Seth Bunke with violating the civil rights of inmates in his custody at the jail, as well as private citizens on the streets of the greater Toledo area. Specifically, Bunke has been charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, as well as conspiring with corrections officers James Kotlarcyk and Joel McConnell to falsify records in a federal investigation. Kotlarcyk and McConnell have also been charged with the substantive offense of falsifying records in a federal investigation.
According to the indictment, on June 11, 2007, defendant Bunke, while on official duty at the Jail, repeatedly kicked an inmate in the head and face, without any justification for doing so, in the presence of defendants McConnell and Kotlarcyk, and other corrections officers not named in the indictment. As a result of this assault, the inmate sustained serious injuries requiring hospitalization. Following the assault by Bunke, the indictment alleges that McConnell, Kotlarcyk, and Bunke agreed that McConnell and Kotlarcyk would write false official reports concerning the assault on the inmate.
Additionally, the indictment charges defendant Bunke with unreasonably seizing a vehicle driven by two local residents on March 13, 2007, and with assaulting pretrial detainees at the jail on May 5, May 6, and June 10, 2007.
If convicted, defendant Bunke faces maximum sentences on each of the felony civil rights counts of 10 years imprisonment and fines of $250,000. Bunke faces additional terms of imprisonment of up to one year for each of the remaining civil rights offenses. Defendants Kotlarcyk and McConnell face maximum sentences of 20 years in prison and fines of $250,000.
An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Kristy L. Parker and Eric Gibson of the Criminal Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.