WASHINGTON – Former Florida Department of Corrections Supervisory Corrections Officer Wilton Joseph Fontenot was sentenced today in federal court in Jacksonville, Fla., for the felony offense of falsifying an official report related to a civil rights investigation. Fontenot was sentenced to 15 months in prison and 24 months of post-incarceration supervised release.
On Nov. 13, 2007, a federal jury convicted Fontenot, formerly a sergeant at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Fla., of filing a false report related to an incident involving the use of force on a 17-year old inmate in 2003. The evidence at trial established that Fontenot falsely asserted in his reports that the inmate initiated the physical confrontation and that the defendant’s response was spontaneous. The jury acquitted Fontenot on separate charges that his use of force violated the inmate’s civil rights and that he attempted to obstruct justice by persuading another officer to lie about the incident.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted jointly by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as the laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights law enforcement prosecutions. 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. 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.