WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Orlando, Fla., found former Bureau of Prisons corrections officer Michael Kennedy guilty late yesterday on felony federal civil rights charges related to the fatal assault of an inmate in March 2005, the Justice Department announced today. Kennedy was convicted of conspiring with others to violate the federal civil rights of inmate Richard Delano and for violating Delano’s civil rights by arranging for another inmate to assault Delano.
The evidence at trial showed that on Feb. 28, 2005, Kennedy and former Bureau of Prisons corrections officer Erin Sharma agreed to move Delano into the cell of inmate John McCullah at the Federal Correctional Complex Coleman in Coleman, Fla. The evidence also showed that Kennedy and Sharma knew that McCullah was likely to assault Delano, and that the move was in retaliation for a prior altercation between Delano and Sharma. Kennedy also conspired with McCullah by bribing him to assault Delano. Kennedy moved Delano into McCullah’s cell on March 1, 2005, and three days later McCullah assaulted Delano. Delano later died from the injuries he suffered during that assault.
On July 29, 2009, following a trial in Orlando, Fla., a federal jury found Erin Sharma guilty of similar felony civil rights charges for her role in the offense. On Aug . 28, 2009, she was sentenced to life in prison.
"The vast majority of law enforcement officers bravely uphold the civil rights of arrestees and inmates, even under adverse conditions. However, as this case shows, when a law enforcement officer violates the civil rights of any person, the Justice Department will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute such an offender," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This case reflects the kind of abuses that our nation’s civil rights laws are intended to punish."
Kennedy faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 13, 2010.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bruce Ambrose and 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. FBI Special Agent Jim Raby was the lead investigator on the case .