WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that former Lucas County Sheriff’s Sergeant John E. Gray was sentenced today by Judge David A. Katz to three years in prison, followed by two years supervised release, for federal civil rights violations and records falsification relating to the in-custody death of a pretrial detainee at the Lucas County Jail.
Additionally, former Lucas County Deputy Jay M. Schmeltz was sentenced to one year and one day in prison followed by two years of supervised release and a $6,000 fine for writing a false report about the incident.
Gray and Schmeltz were found guilty by a jury on Dec. 3, 2010, after a month-long trial in Toledo, Ohio. Lucas County Sheriff James A. Telb and Internal Affairs Investigator Robert E. McBroom were acquitted on charges relating to an alleged subsequent cover-up of the role that jail personnel played in the 2004 death of Carlton Benton. Evidence at trial showed that on May 30, 2004, Gray assaulted Mr. Benton in a cell at the Lucas County Jail and left Benton lying unconscious without seeking medical help for him. Thereafter, according to trial evidence, Gray and Schmeltz wrote false reports concealing the incidents.
“Law enforcement officers are granted a great deal of power so that they can protect and serve their communities, and those who abuse their power will face consequences,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department will aggressively prosecute all cases of police misconduct.”
“This sentence sends a strong message that we will protect the integrity of our criminal justice system and the rights of all,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Cleveland Division. The case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Kristy L. Parker of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger S. Bamberger of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio and trial attorney Ryan R. McKinstry of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.