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Press Release

Jury Finds Former Correctional Sergeant Guilty of Perjury During Investigation into Cover-Up of Assault of a CSP Sacramento Inmate

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A jury found a former California state correctional officer guilty yesterday afternoon of perjury in connection with a federal grand jury investigation into a conspiracy to cover up an assault of an inmate, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. Following a three-day trial, Brenda Villa, 32, of North Highlands, was found guilty of one count of perjury.

According to the court records and evidence presented at trial, Villa was a correctional sergeant supervising other officers at California State Prison – Sacramento (also known as New Folsom State Prison or CSP-Sacramento) when correctional officer Arturo Pacheco unlawfully assaulted an inmate under color of law. Following the assault and the inmate’s death, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) initiated an internal investigation. As the CDCR internal investigation proceeded, a federal grand jury began investigating federal criminal charges in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Villa was called to testify in front of the grand jury about her role and the actions of her fellow officers in covering up the unlawful assault. Villa lied under oath to the federal grand jury investigating the incident.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Anderson and Rosanne L. Rust are prosecuting the case.

Former correctional officers Arturo Pacheco and Ashley Aurich pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 12½ years and 21 months in prison, respectively.

Villa’s sentencing will be scheduled in front of U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb at a future court hearing. The next hearing in the case is on Monday, July 24, 2023. Villa faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison for perjury 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 July 18, 2023