WASHINGTON - A jury in St. Louis today convicted Vernon Wilson, 57, former chief deputy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, of violating the civil rights of four former inmates of the Washington County Jail on four separate occasions by beating two of the inmates and by arranging for the beatings of two other inmates, announced the Department of Justice. Wilson was also convicted of two counts of lying to the FBI about his role in two of the attacks. Wilson will be sentenced on June 1, 2011.
According to evidence presented at trial, on two occasions, Wilson struck the inmates repeatedly in the face, banging their heads into a concrete wall. Two other times, Wilson orchestrated the beatings of inmates by using another inmate known for fighting to assault them. Both times Wilson rewarded the inmate for the beatings by giving the inmate cigarettes. One of the inmates was so severely beaten he had to be hospitalized for his injuries, which included a broken orbital bone.
“Wilson used the power of his position to punish these inmates,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “His actions brought shame to his fellow law enforcement officers, but even more than that, they served to undermine our faith and confidence in the criminal justice system.”
“When Vernon Wilson goes to prison, he should not experience the same vulnerability he made his victims feel,” said Dennis L. Baker, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI St. Louis Division. “Fortunately, the vast majority of the men and women who swore to uphold the law are not like him.”
Wilson’s daughter, Valeria Wilson Jackson, 26, previously pleaded guilty on July 14, 2010, to one count of obstruction of justice for lying to the FBI about her role in one of the beatings.
The case was investigated by the St. Louis Division of the FBI and was prosecuted by Fara Gold and Patricia Sumner of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.