Groom Guilty Plea
ANGOLA OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr., announced that KEVIN L. GROOM SR., age 45, pled guilty before United States District Judge James J. Brady to falsification of records in a federal investigation and making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the factual basis entered in connection with his guilty plea, on or about January 24, 2010, GROOM, then a Major at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, was on duty when he heard over the radio that an inmate had escaped from his assigned location and was running towards the golf course located on prison grounds. While GROOM was heading to the golf course, the inmate, R.M., surrendered to prison officials. When GROOM arrived there, he saw R.M. in the back of a pick-up truck and in the custody of two officers, C.B. and M.S. Three high-ranking prison officials were also standing by the truck’s bed. One of the high-ranking officials grabbed R.M.’s head and slammed it against the truck. At the time, R.M. was handcuffed behind his back and compliant. There was no legitimate law enforcement purpose for slamming R.M.’s head against the truck.
Almost immediately after the head-slam, M.S. hit R.M. with an asp baton, and C.B. struck R.M. The three high-ranking officials passively watched M.S. and C.B. assault R.M.; no one reprimanded M.S. or C.B. or ordered M.S. or C.B. to get off the truck. Instead, one of the high-ranking prison officials ordered GROOM to join C.B. and M.S. on the back of the truck. That prison official ordered them to transport R.M. to the medical unit.
During the drive to the medical unit, M.S. continued to strike R.M. with his asp baton. C.B. also struck R.M. Throughout the beating, R.M. was lying on his stomach, with his hands cuffed behind his back. R.M. was compliant, and there was no legitimate law enforcement purpose for striking R.M.
GROOM, who had the highest rank among the three officers on the back of the truck, did not stop C.B. or M.S. from striking R.M. The driver of the truck also did not stop the beating or instruct the officers to stop striking R.M. The driver of the truck did not stop the truck until they reached the medical unit.
Almost immediately, R.M. told prison officials at the Louisiana State Penitentiary that he had been beaten during the drive to the medical unit. As a result of this complaint, prison officials launched an internal investigation. As part of that investigation, on or about January 27, 2010, GROOM wrote and submitted a false report. Specifically, GROOM reported that no one assaulted R.M. on the back of the truck as they transported him to the medical unit.
The FBI also investigated R.M.’s allegation that he had been assaulted by prison officials at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The FBI interviewed GROOM on or about September 28, 2011 in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. GROOM purposely lied and told an FBI agent that no one struck R.M. during the transport to the medical unit.
Before January 2010, at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana, the defendant received training in the proper and appropriate use of force against inmates by correctional guards and officers employed by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. During those training sessions, the defendant was instructed that use of excessive force by law enforcement personnel, including correctional officers, was a violation of the laws of the United States (Federal law), punishable by imprisonment, a fine, or both.
As a result of his guilty pleas, GROOM faces a maximum sentence of twenty-five (25) years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both. United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr., remarked, “Law enforcement officers often act as our heroes in protecting us every day; so when some violate their duties to the public, it is a sad day. They must and will be held accountable, and this plea is a step forward in securing justice in this case.”
The investigation in this matter was conducted by Special Agent Taneka Harris of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney AeaJean (Angie) Cha and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert W. Piedrahita.
If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org