Former Major at Correctional Institution Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Falsifying Records to Obstruct Federal Investigation
PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Yesterday afternoon, Michael J. Baxter, 49, of Grand Ridge, Florida, was sentenced in the U.S. District Court in Panama City to 5 years in prison after being convicted on January 25 of falsifying records to obstruct a federal investigation. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
During the two-day trial, the government presented evidence that Baxter, while acting as a state correctional officer at the Apalachee Correctional Institution, knowingly falsified use-of-force and incident reports to obstruct an investigation into allegations of a violent assault on an inmate. The jury received evidence that, on July 12, 2015, the inmate was assaulted in Major Baxter’s office on the day the inmate was going to be married. Blood splatter from the inmate’s head was found on the floor of the office, and medical records confirmed significant damage to the inmate’s face and head. Afterwards, Major Baxter falsified his reports to obstruct the investigation into the assault.
United States Attorney Canova said: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will vigorously prosecute those lawbreakers in positions of trust who abuse their authority to obstruct the pursuit of justice and attempt to mislead investigators with false information.”
“Law enforcement must be held to a higher standard,” said Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “The FBI will use every resource available to assist our law enforcement partners in holding officers accountable for their actions.”
FDC Secretary Julie Jones said: “The actions of Mr. Baxter were unacceptable and are in no way a reflection of the thousands of correctional officers who work diligently every day to watch over our inmates. Protecting those in our custody is the Department’s chief priority, and we are committed to ensuring fair and appropriate treatment as they serve their time in the correctional system. We thank our law enforcement partners for their hard work throughout this process.”
“Obstructing the truth and knowingly falsifying records presents a clear danger to the lives of inmates and all those who work at the prison. FDLE takes such threats seriously and is committed to fully determining all the facts and ensuring that the truth provides for accountability,” said FDLE Pensacola Special Agent in Charge Jack Massey.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Corrections – Office of Inspector General, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.