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Press Release

Former Petersburg FCI Bureau of Prisons Lieutenant Sentenced for Violating Civil Rights of an Inmate Resulting in the Inmate’s Death

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

RICHMOND, Va. – Former Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Lieutenant was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for violating the civil rights of an inmate by showing deliberate indifference to the inmate’s serious medical needs, resulting in the inmate’s death. 

“This inmate’s death was not the result of inadvertence or a lapse in judgment.” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “His death was the completely preventable result of the deliberate choices made by the defendant, who knew he had the constitutional duty to provide medical care. Inmates are entitled to basic human dignity.”

“Inmates entrusted to the care and custody of a correctional facility rely on correctional officials for basic healthcare, especially in a medical emergency,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to hold correctional officials who blatantly disregard inmates’ serious medical needs accountable.”

According to court documents, Lieutenant Michael Anderson, 52, admitted that on January 9 and 10, 2021, he was working in his official capacity as a BOP lieutenant at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) at Petersburg. In that capacity, Anderson was the second-highest ranking officer at the prison and was responsible for the care of inmates. On January 9, 2021, a correctional officer notified Anderson that a 47-year-old inmate, W.W., was experiencing symptoms of an apparent medical emergency and asked the defendant to help W.W. obtain medical care. Anderson personally observed W.W.’s symptoms and stated that he would get medical help for W.W. The defendant nevertheless failed to notify medical staff, obtain a medical assessment, contact the facility’s on-call physician, or notify any other staff members of W.W.’s condition. 

The next day, a correctional officer notified Anderson that W.W. had fallen to the ground in his cell. Even with this information, Anderson failed to obtain any assistance for W.W. whatsoever. W.W. then laid on the ground, dead or dying, for over an hour and a half before any correctional or medical staff entered his cell. By the time correctional and medical staff entered the cell, life-saving efforts failed, and W.W. was later pronounced dead.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; Michael E. Horwitz, Inspector General of the Justice Department, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Roderick C. Young.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Garnett and Special Litigation Counsel Kathryn E. Gilbert and Trial Attorney Matthew Tannenbaum of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section prosecuted the case.

The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General investigated the case. 

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:23-cr-80.

Updated November 28, 2023

Civil Rights