WASHINGTON – A former correctional officer from Cohoes, N.Y., was convicted following a jury trial in Albany, N.Y., of violating the civil rights of an inmate while working at the Rensselaer County Correctional Facility (RCCF), and making false statements to the FBI regarding the incident, the Department of Justice announced today.
Following trial before U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe, the jury found that in January 2009, Keith Ronald Hancock Jr., 37, while employed as a correctional officer at the RCCF in Troy, N.Y., assaulted an inmate and made a false statement to the FBI during the investigation of the incident. At trial, the jury heard evidence that Hancock struck an inmate on multiple occasions while the inmate was handcuffed behind the back and under the control of other correctional officers. After the incident, Hancock prepared an incident report in which he failed to report his uses of force or provide any justification for them. Thereafter, during the course of the federal investigation, Hancock falsely denied his conduct.
“Corrections officers who abuse their authority and violate the rights of inmates under their supervision do a disservice to all officers who take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez. “The Civil Rights Division will aggressively prosecute these abuses of official authority, wherever they occur.”
“Conduct such as the defendant’s has no place in our correctional institutions, or in our society,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York Richard S. Hartunian. “Prosecutions such as this send an important message that such conduct cannot and will not be tolerated.”
The defendant’s conviction for violating the inmate’s civil rights carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. The conviction for making a false statement to the FBI carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Sentencing is scheduled for July 12, 2011.
The investigation in this matter was conducted by the Albany Division of the FBI, with the assistance of the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.