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Press Release

Jury Finds Atwater Inmates Guilty of Attempting to Kill a Correctional Officer and Assault on a Correctional Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — On Tuesday, after a four-day trial, a federal jury found Jonathan Mota, 37, guilty of attempting to kill a federal officer and found Dominic Adams, 27, guilty of assault on a federal officer, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, on October 6, 2017, Mota, Adams and four other inmates brutally attacked a Federal Bureau of Prisons officer who was a teacher working at the federal penitentiary in Atwater. The officer was repeatedly stabbed with homemade knives and kicked and beaten by the inmates.

According to court documents, on the day of the attack, Mota and Eric Chiago, 28, entered the copy room where the officer was making copies and repeatedly stabbed him. William Roe Acevedo, 33; Michael Martin, 30; Joey Thomas, 26; and Adams stationed themselves outside the room. When the victim was able to free himself and escape down the hallway, the six defendants tackled him and wrestled him to the floor where they repeatedly kicked, punched and stabbed him. Adams and Thomas also assaulted an officer who was responding to the attack.

Chiago, Acevedo, Martin, and Thomas pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. Chiago was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison, Acevedo was sentenced to 13 years in prison, Martin was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison, and Thomas was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison.

This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian K. Delaney and Kirk E. Sherriff are prosecuting the case.

Mota and Adams are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on July 29. They face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated January 31, 2024

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 1:18-cr-035 LJO