Former South Carolina DJJ Lieutenant Indicted on Federal Civil Rights and Obstruction of Justice Charges
Columbia, South Carolina--------United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that a federal grand jury in Columbia, South Carolina, returned a three-count indictment charging Nicole Jenice Samples, of Columbia, with depravation of rights under color of law, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242, and obstruction of justice under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1513(b)(3). Samples faces up to ten years on each Section 242 offense and twenty years on the Section 1513(b)(3) offense, along with a fine of $250,000.00 and three years of supervised release.
According the grand jury’s indictment, on January 1, 2017, Nicole Jenice Samples directed the use of excessive force as punishment for two juveniles housed at the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). It is alleged that in response to juveniles making noise, Samples, a Lieutenant at DJJ, ordered two of her subordinate correctional officers to apply mechanical restraints to two juveniles, directing that the leg restraints be connected to the hand restraints, a practice known as “hog-tying.” In contravention of DJJ policy that limited use of restraints and specifically forbade any hog-tying of juveniles, Samples oversaw the application of the hog-tie restraints as punishment, leaving the juveniles face down on their stomachs for over two hours.
U.S. Attorney Beth Drake thanked DJJ Acting Director Freddie Pough, SLED and the FBI: “These three law enforcement agencies have great, cooperative working relationships, and on matters of joint interest, their investigative work ensures that nobody is above or outside the law.”
Alphonso Norris, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI, added, “This matter was aggressively pursued by the FBI and our law enforcement partners. We continue to be committed to ensuring these violations are investigated and that the violators are brought to justice.”
Acting Director Freddie Pough stated, “We at DJJ make full review of allegations of abuse and/or mistreatment of all juveniles in our care, and we will not tolerate mistreatment by any staff or other residents. When this allegation was raised, after an initial review, we notified SLED, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in order that there was a full investigation. No officer is above the law. I would like to thank our State and Federal counterparts for their support and assistance with this investigation.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and SLED at the request of, and with the assistance of, the Department of Juvenile Justice and Acting Director Freddie Pough. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alyssa Leigh Richardson of the Columbia office.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in this indictment are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.