WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury in Orlando, Fla., indicted a Bureau of Prisons corrections officer today on charges related to a fatal assault on an inmate in March 2005, the Justice Department announced. Erin Sharma was charged with one count of conspiring with others to violate the federal civil rights of inmate Richard Delano and one count of violating Delano’s civil rights by arranging for another inmate to assault Delano.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Each count carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. A trial has not yet been scheduled.
The grand jury charged that on Feb. 28, 2005, Sharma and an unnamed co-conspirator agreed to move Delano into the cell of another inmate at the Federal Correctional Complex Coleman in Coleman, Fla. The indictment alleges that Sharma and the unnamed co-conspirator knew that this inmate was likely to assault Delano, and that this move was in retaliation for a prior altercation between Delano and Sharma. Sharma also encouraged the inmate to assault Delano. The unnamed co-conspirator moved Delano into the inmate’s cell on March 1, 2005. On March 4, 2005, the inmate assaulted Delano. Delano later died from the injuries he suffered during that assault.
The case will be prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Adams from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Douglas Kern from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Criminal Section convicted the highest number of defendants in its history, surpassing the record previously set in Fiscal Year 2006. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights law enforcement prosecutions. During the last seven years, the Criminal Section obtained convictions of 53 percent more defendants (391 v. 256) in law enforcement prosecutions than the previous seven years.