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Press Release

Medical Center Inmate Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Federal Employee

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that an inmate at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners Springfield, Mo., has pleaded guilty to assaulting a federal employee.

Willard Begay, 33, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush on Friday, July 26, 2013, to the charge contained in a Nov. 7, 2012, federal indictment.

Begay admitted that the assault occurred while he was meeting with a federal correctional counselor on Oct. 1, 2012. Begay was escorted to the counselor’s office to discuss some issues he had with other inmates as well as Begay’s transfer to another unit. The counselor advised Begay that the best situation would be for him to go to a locked unit where he would be removed from the problems.

At the conclusion of their session, the counselor asked Begay to place his hands behind his back so he could apply hand restraints. Begay placed his hands behind his back, and the counselor started to apply a cuff to Begay’s left wrist. Instantly, Begay turned around and hit the counselor in the face with a closed fist. The counselor fell back about three steps, stunned and dazed from the punch. Begay then grabbed a nearby computer printer and threw the computer printer. The combination of Begay’s closed-fist punch and the throwing of the computer printer caused the counselor to sustain a broken orbital bone, lacerations requiring stitches and bruising. Additional staff members assisted in apprehending Begay and taking the counselor to the medical center’s emergency room.

Under federal statutes, Begay is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Updated January 16, 2015