Tennessee Jail Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements to the FBI
The Justice Department announced that Gary Ola, 54, a sergeant at the Cheatham County Jail in Ashland City, Tennessee, pleaded guilty late yesterday to two counts of making false statements to FBI agents.
Ola was indicted on June 26 and the charges resulted from false statements about his knowledge of an incident in which another corrections officer used a Taser to stun a restrained detainee inside the Cheatham County Jail. The other corrections officer was charged in a separate indictment with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of obstruction of justice and his trial is set for early 2019. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
In his plea agreement, Ola admitted to making false statements during two separate interviews with federal agents investigating the Taser incident. In the first interview in August 2017, Ola falsely told agents with the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that, after he helped secure a detainee in a restraint chair in the Cheatham County Jail on Nov. 5, 2016, he walked away and did not see another corrections officer deploy a Taser and stun the detainee. In a second interview with the FBI in May 2018, the Ola stated that he did not see the corrections officer stun the detainee after officers placed the detainee in handcuffs. Ola admitted that he made these false statements because he feared retaliation if he reported that the corrections officer had used his Taser in violation of the jail’s policy and training.
Ola faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Beth Myers of the Middle District of Tennessee and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer.