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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Three Former Georgia Correctional Officers Sentenced for Offenses Related to beating of Inmate and Ensuing Cover-Up

The Justice Department announced that Christopher Hall, a former Sergeant for the Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) at Macon State Prison (MSP) in Oglethorpe, Georgia, and two former CERT officers, Ronald Lach and Delton Rushin, were sentenced on Thursday, December 4, 2014, for offenses related to the beating of an MSP inmate in 2010 and the cover-up that followed.  All three officers were convicted by a federal jury on June 20, 2014.   

Hall was sentenced to 72 months in prison for conspiracy to obstruct justice and two obstruction-related offenses.  Lach was sentenced to 90 months in prison for his involvement in the beating of the inmate, for conspiring to cover up the beating and for writing a false report.  Rushin was sentenced to 60 months in prison for conspiring to obstruct justice and obstruction-related offenses.  All three have two years of supervised release.

Evidence at trial, and a series of guilty pleas that preceded trial, showed that Lach was one of several MSP officers who participated in a retaliatory beating against an inmate in order to punish the inmate for his prior misconduct.  Hall, Lach and Rushin then conspired with other officers to cover up the beating by providing false and misleading statements to investigators and writing false reports.

To date, eight former MSP officers have been convicted in connection with the beatings of inmates at Macon State in 2010 and the cover-up that followed.

“Eight former corrections officials from Macon State Prison now stand convicted for their involvement in beating inmates or in the coordinated cover-ups that followed each assault,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “These officers betrayed the public trust by using their official positions to commit violent civil rights abuses and then to try to hide what they had done.  The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute corrections officers who use their power to violate federal law.”

"When individuals are sentenced to prison, we expect that they will serve their time under the supervision of dedicated correctional officers and staff,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia.  “What we don't expect, and will not tolerate, is for the people in charge of supervising and protecting the prisoners to beat the inmates and then try to cover it up when word of those crimes makes its way outside the prison walls.  The inmates in prisons across the state are serving a sentence of incarceration, and that doesn't include being subject to beatings and the abuse of power by corrections officers.  And while being a prison guard is both an important and challenging task, it is a job that requires adherence to the law.  We are lucky in Georgia to have many outstanding corrections officers who do their jobs every day with unmatched professionalism.  The defendants in this case broke the law and the trust they were given."

These cases were investigated by the Macon Resident Agency of the FBI, with the support of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.  The cases were prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Forrest Christian and Trial Attorney Tona Boyd for the Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of the United States Attorney’s Office in Macon.

Updated August 27, 2015