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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Philadelphia Correctional Officers Charged in Beating of Inmate

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Robert Berger, 35, and Nathaniel Morris, 47,  both of Philadelphia, PA, were charged by Indictment with depriving an inmate at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility of his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force.  Berger and Morris, both arrested earlier today, were also charged with making false statements relating to the incident.

The defendants are City of Philadelphia correctional officers who are alleged to have beaten an inmate in their custody on September 10, 2018.  As outlined in the indictment, Berger and Morris allegedly repeatedly punched and kicked the inmate, even though the inmate was compliant and not posing a physical threat to anyone.

“The United States criminal justice system works because everyone, regardless of where they are in the system, is guaranteed constitutional rights along the way,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.  “These two defendants, whose jobs it is to maintain the safety and security of inmates while in custody, allegedly violated the law in a brutal, violent manner.  The federal government will not tolerate this kind of lawless behavior.”

“Corrections officers have a difficult job,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “That doesn't give them impunity to lash out violently and treat inmates like punching bags. Incarcerated men and women lose their freedom, not their humanity — and not their civil rights. The FBI will always seek justice for victims of violence, no matter who or where they are.”

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of twenty years imprisonment.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Faithe Moore Taylor.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19106 JENNIFER CRANDALL Media Contact 215-861-8300
Updated May 15, 2019