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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 18, 2022

Bayside State Prison Corrections Officer Admits Violating Inmates’ Civil Rights

NEWARK, N.J. – A corrections officer at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, New Jersey, today admitted agreeing with others to physically assault inmates for actual, perceived, and fabricated violations of the prison’s rules and customs in a manner that resulted in injury to the inmates, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

John Makos, 42, of Millville, New Jersey, today pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Karen M. Williams in Camden federal court to an information charging him with conspiring with others to deprive inmates of their right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From at least April 2019 through December 2019, while working as a corrections officer, Makos conspired with others at Bayside State Prison to assault and punish certain inmates in a cruel and arbitrary manner by using excessive force that caused physical injury and pain to the victims. Makos and others agreed to physically assault victims for actual and perceived violations of the prison’s rules and customs, which on occasion resulted in the inmates suffering bodily injury. These assaults took place while the inmates were under Makos’ supervision and in areas of the Prison’s kitchen that were out of sight of institutional surveillance cameras. 

For example, on Dec. 7, 2019, Makos watched and did not attempt to intervene when multiple inmates pinned a victim to the floor and, while the inmates restrained the victim, punched the victim approximately 25 times. Makos did not report this assault to his supervisors or medical personnel, despite knowing he was required to do so. 

Conspiring to violate the civil rights of others carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum potential fine of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross amount of pecuniary gain that any person derived from the offense, or twice the gross amount of pecuniary loss that any person suffered from the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for March 23, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation. He also thanked the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the direction of Acting Commissioner Victoria Kuhn, for their assistance in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara F. Merin and Ari B. Fontecchio of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark and Trial Attorney Shan Patel of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
22-431
Updated November 18, 2022