Two Former Downstate Prison Correction Officers Convicted Of Beating An Inmate And Falsifying Records
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William Grady, the Dutchess County District Attorney, announced today that KATHY SCOTT and GEORGE SANTIAGO JR., both former New York State Correction Officers, were convicted yesterday of the November 12, 2013, beating of Kevin Moore, a sentenced inmate at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill New York, and of falsifying records after the fact to cover up the beating. SCOTT and SANTIAGO assaulted Moore in violation of his rights under the U.S. Constitution by repeatedly punching and kicking him in the head and body as he lay prone on the floor – injuries that caused Moore to be hospitalized for two weeks with facial bone fractures, five broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. SCOTT and SANTIAGO were also charged with, and convicted of, conspiring to violate Moore’s civil rights, as well as falsifying and conspiring to falsify Department of Correction records concerning the assault. After a nine-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas, SCOTT and SANTIAGO were convicted of all charges and immediately taken into custody.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Yesterday, a unanimous jury in White Plains found two New York State correction officers guilty of federal crimes in brutally beating 54-year-old inmate Kevin Moore and then orchestrating a massive cover-up involving scores of lies and even a phony injury. This verdict should send a loud, clear message to the New York State prison system that the protections of the U.S. Constitution do not stop at the prison wall. Although most correction officers are good and honest public servants doing an enormously challenging and important job, there are those who become criminals themselves. Officers who beat inmates, supervising officers who facilitate abuse, and those who lie about it to investigators will face the consequences. And that could be a federal conviction and time in prison as an inmate themselves.”
Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady said: "The United States Attorney’s Office, in agreeing to take the lead in this case, allowed us to avoid the serious legal restrictions that would have been encountered if we had pursued this investigation at the state level. The resulting joint investigation coupled with this jury verdict has allowed our two offices to ensure that there would be full accountability in this horrific case and send the message that every available option was and will continue to be pursued to ensure that justice is achieved."
According to the evidence introduced at trial:
On November 12, 2013, Kevin Moore, then 54, was brought to the 1D Housing Unit at Downstate Correctional Facility to be housed overnight. Moore objected to his cell assignment and a verbal dispute ensued between Moore and a group of correction officers. After Moore yelled, in sum and substance, “I’m a monster,” multiple officers, including SANTIAGO, forced Moore to the floor, held him down, and proceeded to assault Moore as he lay there, repeatedly punching and kicking Moore in the head and body. At no time did Moore ever try to attack, touch, or even make a threatening gesture toward any of the officers. While Moore lay defenseless on the floor, SANTIAGO cocked back his leg and kicked Moore in the face. SANTIAGO also continued to strike Moore after Moore was handcuffed. During the beating, SANTIAGO laughed and taunted Moore, yelling, “Who’s the monster now?”
SCOTT, who was then a sergeant and the supervising officer on the scene, was present for the entire beating and was required to stop the excessive force of her subordinates. Instead of taking action to stop the unlawful violence, SCOTT encouraged it, ordering an officer to hold Moore down on the floor while other officers continued to kick and punch him. During the beating, Moore repeatedly cried out in pain and begged SCOTT and the other officers to stop hurting him.
Immediately after the beating, SANTIAGO and other officers, led by SCOTT, engaged in an elaborate cover-up of the crime they had committed. They made up a false cover story that Moore had attacked one of the officers and that another officer had to strike Moore once in the head. To make this lie believable, the officers claimed that Moore had injured the officer’s back by pushing the officer backward onto a table. Because nothing of the sort had occurred, they created a phony injury. Specifically, SANTIAGO hit one of the other officers repeatedly on the back with a baton and SCOTT photographed the fake injury. SCOTT then prepared a false Use of Force Report of the incident, incorporating the photos and false statements from herself and other officers, including SANTIAGO, and submitted the report to her superiors. SCOTT and SANTIAGO also repeatedly pressured other officers to lie to investigators about what had occurred.
Moore was severely injured, suffering multiple facial fractures, five broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, among other injuries. According to the medical evidence, Moore received at least four forceful blows to the face and torso, including one crushing strike to the right eye that was consistent with a kick from a boot.
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SCOTT, 43, of Saugerties, New York, and SANTIAGO, 35, of Fremont Center, New York, were each convicted of one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to deprive civil rights, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of falsifying documents, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiring to falsify documents, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. SCOTT AND SANTIAGO are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Karas on April 10, 2018.
Three other former Downstate correction officers pled guilty to the same four offenses. Andrew Lowery pled guilty on July 27, 2016; Donald Cosman pled guilty on August 31, 2016; and Carson Morris, pled guilty on November 1, 2017.
The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigators at the United States Attorney’s Office. Mr. Kim, also thanked the New York State Department of Correction Office of Special Investigation, and the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit and the White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Dember and Pierre Armand are in charge of the prosecution.