Erie County Correctional Facility deputy pleads guilty to civil rights violation involving an inmate
BUFFALO, N.Y.– U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Josephine Cutolo, 54, of Buffalo, N.Y. pleaded guilty before Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott to deprivation of rights under color of law. The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross, who is handling the case, stated that on August 18, 2012, the defendant, a deputy with the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, used chemical spray on an inmate. At the time the incident occurred, the inmate was in handcuffs, subdued and being escorted by two other deputies. Cutolo aimed the chemical spray a few inches from the victim’s face which resulted in the spray affecting the victim’s face, chin and shoulder area. After spraying the victim, the defendant yelled a vulgar obscenity at the inmate.
“Those who serve in law enforcement- including corrections staff - are entrusted with substantial power and authority in order to protect the public or those in their care,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Certainly the vast majority of officers live up to the highest ideals and demands of their chosen vocation. But when an officer abuses his position and hurts one she is sworn to protect, our Office will not hesitate to bring the perpetrator to justice, regardless of their title or position.”
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by Special Agents of the Federal bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel.