WASHINGTON – Benjamin Montgomery, a former correctional officer at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta pleaded guilty today to a two-count information charging him with civil rights crimes for assaulting an inmate and for subsequently writing a false report about the incident.
According to the charging document and information presented in court, on June 2, 2010, Montgomery, while working as a correctional officer in the penitentiary, physically assaulted an inmate without legal justification and thereby violated the inmate’s constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Additionally, Montgomery admitted that following the incident, he wrote a memorandum to his supervisor about his use of force in which he falsely accused the inmate of making aggressive movements toward Montgomery. Montgomery agreed he wrote the false memorandum in an attempt to impede the investigation of the inmate’s complaint.
“Correctional officers are entrusted to perform their critical public safety duties and not to abuse the civil and constitutional rights of inmates under their supervision,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Those officers who abuse their power and public trust will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "We recognize that correctional officers have a difficult job as they guard and protect inmates in our federal prisons. But under no circumstances can we allow an officer to abuse his power to commit violent and unnecessary assaults on an inmate, nor can we stand by and allow that officer to obstruct our investigations. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting any law enforcement officer who engages in such conduct.”
Montgomery is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 24, 2011. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the deprivation of rights charge and 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice charge. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
This case was investigated by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Gray and Trial Attorney Nicole Lee Ndumele of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.