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Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, March 9, 2009

Former Lucas County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON - A former corrections officer with the Lucas County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office was sentenced today to four years in prison for violating the civil rights of inmates in his custody at the Lucas County jail, as well as private citizens on the streets of the greater Toledo area, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King for the Civil Rights Division; U.S. Attorney William J. Edwards for the Northern District of Ohio; and C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.

Today in federal district court in Toledo, Ohio, Judge Jack Zouhary also sentenced the former corrections officer, Seth Bunke, to three years of supervised release following the prison term.

Bunke was convicted by a federal jury on Oct. 16, 2008, of the felony federal civil rights violations and two misdemeanor counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

"The defendant, who was sworn to serve and protect the people of Lucas County, chose to break the law instead of enforcing it," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King. "The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute law enforcement officers who violate individuals’ civil rights."

According to the evidence presented at trial, on June 11, 2007, Bunke, while on official duty at the jail, repeatedly kicked an inmate in the head and face, without any justification for doing so, in the presence of other corrections officers. As a result of this assault, the inmate sustained serious injuries requiring hospitalization.

In addition, trial evidence showed that Bunke unreasonably seized a vehicle driven by two local residents on March 13, 2007, and assaulted a pretrial detainee at the Lucas County jail on or about May 6, 2007.

The case was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Kristy L. Parker and Trial Attorney Eric Gibson of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division and by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014