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Press Release

Two Federal Bureau of Prisons Employees Charged with Violating the Civil Rights of an Inmate Resulting in His Death

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

RICHMOND, Va. – A federal grand jury indicted a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) lieutenant and a BOP registered nurse yesterday with violating the civil rights of an inmate by showing deliberate indifference to the inmate’s serious medical needs, resulting in his death. 

The indictment alleges that on January 9, 2021, Lieutenant Shronda Covington, 47, of Chesterfield, and Registered Nurse Tonya Farley 52, of Chesterfield, were on duty and working in their official capacities at the Federal Correctional Institution at Petersburg, Virginia. On that day, they allegedly each willfully failed to ensure that the inmate, a 47-year-old man identified as W.W., was provided with necessary medical care, leading to W.W.’s death, even though each allegedly knew that W.W. had serious medical needs. Farley is also charged with writing a false report about the incident. Covington and Farley are each charged with making false statements to federal agents about the incident.

The civil rights charges each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, the false report charge carries a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison and each false statement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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; and Russell W. Cunningham, Special Agent in Charge of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) Washington Field Office, made the announcement.

DOJ OIG investigated the case. 

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 are prosecuting 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-68..

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Updated June 7, 2023

Civil Rights