WASHINGTON – John McQueen, 33, a former sergeant and supervisor at the Lexington-Fayette County, Ky., Detention Center (FCDC), and Clarence McCoy, 31, a former corporal at FCDC, were sentenced today in federal court in Lexington, Ky., for their roles in the systematic abuse of detainees at FCDC, the Justice Department announced. Federal Judge Karen K. Caldwell sentenced McQueen and McCoy to each serve 10 years in prison and two years of supervised release.
McQueen and McCoy were convicted by a federal jury on May 13, 2010. Evidence at the trial established that the defendants and other FCDC officers conspired to deprive detainees of their constitutional rights by physically abusing them and by authoring false and misleading incident reports in order to conceal the abuse. The conspiracy charge, for which both defendants were convicted, identified multiple incidents of abuse that occurred between Jan. 1, 2006, and Oct. 1, 2006. The other charges related to specific incidents of abuse and specific acts of obstruction of justice.
“The power granted to correctional officers so that they can perform their critical public safety duties does not give them free rein to abuse the civil and constitutional rights of inmates under their supervision,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Those officers who abuse their power and the public trust in this way will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Everyone is entitled to the protection of their civil rights,” said Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “This case is proof that the Department of Justice will actively pursue and prosecute anyone who violates another person’s civil rights no matter their position of authority.”
Before trial began, three additional co-defendants, all former employees of FCDC, pleaded guilty to federal charges connected to this case. Former Lieutenant Christine LaFoe pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice; Sergeant Anthony Estep pleaded guilty to a civil rights charge and an obstruction charge for failing to intervene in the abuse of inmates; and former Corporal Scott Tyree pleaded guilty to a civil rights conspiracy charge.
This case was investigated by the Louisville field office of the FBI, and it was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jared Fishman and Benjamin Hawk of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart for the Eastern District of Kentucky.