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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Former Sheriff of Franklin County, Arkansas Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Assaulting Two People in Custody

Former Franklin County, Arkansas, Sheriff Anthony Boen, 51, was sentenced today to four years in prison, followed by two years of supervised release and a $4,800 fine for assaulting two individuals in his custody. After a six-day trial in August 2021, a jury in the Western District of Arkansas convicted Boen of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

Evidence presented at trial established that Boen used unreasonable force to punish pretrial detainees on two separate occasions. On Dec. 3, 2018, Boen struck a detainee multiple times in the head with a closed fist while the detainee was sitting on the floor and shackled to a bench inside the Franklin County Jail. Several minutes later, Boen returned to the detainee’s cell and struck him in the head again, then spit on him. On Nov. 21, 2018, Boen slammed a detainee onto the floor and ripped his hair during an interrogation. Both detainees suffered bodily injury as a result of Boen’s actions. During the subsequent investigation of these offenses, Boen contacted officers who witnessed his assaults and pressured them not to provide truthful information to investigators. 

“No one is above the law, especially high-ranking law enforcement officers who have a duty to uphold the Constitution and protect individuals in their custody,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The defendant abused his power as sheriff by assaulting the people he was sworn to protect and pressuring his subordinates to cover up his crimes. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute law enforcement officials who violate people’s civil rights.”

“Anthony Boen swore an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and the State of Arkansas Constitution,” said U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas.  “His actions clearly violated not only the civil rights of these individuals but also the trust of the people of Franklin County. Cases like this are very important to our office because they involve the most personal and basic of civil rights: the rights to be protected and unharmed while in the custody of law enforcement officers. Today’s sentencing shows that justice will prevail in cases where a person’s civil rights are violated. We will continue to vigorously pursue cases involving the violation of basic civil rights that should be afforded to everyone.”

"When former Sheriff Boen brutally assaulted individuals in his custody and violated their civil rights, it impacted all Arkansans and their trust in authorities," said Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson of the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office. “The FBI is committed to maintaining the public's trust in law enforcement. With today's sentencing of Mr. Boen, our community knows we will aggressively investigate and bring to justice any law enforcement officer who would violate the rights of their fellow Americans."

The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon T. Carter and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer.

Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website at www.pacer.gov.

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
Updated March 10, 2022