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Press Release

Former Desoto County, FLA., Sheriff's Deputies Indicted For Civil Rights and Obstruction Violations Regarding The Assault Of An Inmate

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

 WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Fort Myers, Fla., indicted former Desoto County Sheriff’s Office deputies Steven Rizza and Jonathan Mause today for charges related to the violation of the civil rights of an inmate who was assaulted by Rizza at the Desoto County Jail and the ensuing obstruction of the investigation into that offense.

The six-count indictment charges Rizza with one count of violating the civil rights of another, and charges both Rizza and Mause with one count of falsifying records in a federal investigation, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury to a grand jury.  Additionally, the indictment charges Mause with one count of making a false statement to a federal investigator.

The indictment alleges that on May 25, 2013, Rizza assaulted an inmate at the Desoto County Jail.  Further, according to the indictment, on May 26 and 27, Rizza and Mause falsified an incident about the assault by changing the incident report to conceal Rizza’s conduct.  The indictment also alleges that Rizza subsequently made false statements about the May 25 incident to a Desoto County Sheriff’s Office investigator and to a federal grand jury.  According to the indictment, Mause made false statements about the May 25 incident to a federal grand jury and a federal investigator.

If convicted, Rizza could face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years on the civil rights violation count.  Both Rizza and Mause could each face a statutory maximum of 20 years for the obstruction of justice and falsification of records counts and a maximum of five years for the perjury count.  Further, Mause could face a maximum of five years for the count of making a false statement to a federal investigator. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are investigating this case with the assistance of the Desoto County Sheriff’s Office.  Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Jesus M. Casas of the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Douglas Kern of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting this case. 

An indictment is merely an accusation, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated January 26, 2015