WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that former jail trustee Willie James Caruthers pleaded guilty yesterday to acting with several others, including law enforcement officials, to assault an inmate inside of the Wilcox County, Ga., Jail on July 23, 2009. Caruthers also pleaded guilty to conspiring to tamper with a witness in connection with the assault.
During his plea hearing and in the factual basis he signed, Caruthers admitted that he, along with several other individuals, including former Wilcox County Sheriff Stacy Bloodsworth, assaulted Wilcox County inmate K.H., causing K.H. to suffer a broken jaw. Caruthers further admitted that he was present when several individuals, including then-Sheriff Bloodsworth, assaulted inmates K.F. and T.O., causing both of them to sustain bruises, scratches and pain. During the plea hearing, Caruthers further admitted that he conspired with several other people, including Stacy Bloodsworth, to cover up the fact that law enforcement officials and others had used excessive force against inmates K.H., K.F. and T.O. Caruthers acknowledged that the plan of the conspiracy was for the co-conspirators to prepare false reports and submit them to Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office officials and to make statements consistent with those false reports to anyone inquiring about the excessive use of force incident.
“The Department of Justice is committed to promoting confidence in our criminal justice system and will vigorously prosecute anyone who acts with law enforcement officials to violate the civil rights of another person,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez.
U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael J. Moore said, “Today’s guilty plea is another example of the zero tolerance the Department of Justice has for those defendants who violate the civil rights of another citizen.”
When Caruthers is sentenced, he faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years on the civil rights violation and a maximum penalty of up to five years on the conspiracy charge.
On Feb. 17, 2012, the Justice Department unsealed a 14-count indictment against Stacy Bloodsworth; his son, Austin Bloodsworth; former Wilcox County Jailer Casey Owens; and Caruthers. The indictment charges the four defendants with civil rights violations in connection with the July 23, 2009, assault of the three inmates and with conspiring to cover up the assaults. In addition, the indictment charges Stacy Bloodsworth, Austin Bloodsworth and Caruthers with lying to the FBI, and it charges Caruthers and Owens with writing false reports. Stacy Bloodsworth was also charged with tampering with one of the victims, as well as with tampering with two witnesses.
On March 5, 2012, former South Central Georgia Drug Task Force Agent Timothy King Jr., 31, pleaded guilty to a bill of information charging him with conspiring to tamper with a witness in connection with the July 23, 2009, assaults of inmates K.H., K.F. and T.O. During his plea hearing, King admitted that he conspired with several other people, including a law enforcement official, to cover up the fact that law enforcement officials and others had used excessive force against the three inmates. When King is sentenced, he faces a maximum penalty of up to five years.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Christine M. Siscaretti and Special Litigation Counsel Gerard V. Hogan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul C. McCommon III of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.