NJ CO pleads guilty to falsifying report about inmate assault
He now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison
By Joe Atmonavage
NEWARK, N.J. — An Essex County jail correctional officer has admitted to falsifying a report surrounding the beating of a detainee at the facility last August, in which three other officers have been charged in connection with, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Angel Chaparro, 38, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to filing a false report after another correctional officer assaulted a pre-trial detainee inside a disciplinary cell.
Chaparro faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and will be sentenced Oct. 20. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The guilty plea centers around an incident on Aug. 17 after a federal pre-trial detainee reportedly squirted a mixture of urine, yogurt and milk onto a correctional officer.
After squirting the mixture at the officer, a group of officers, including Chaparro, transported the detainee to a disciplinary cell to conduct a strip search, though the search was never completed, according to a criminal complaint.
Instead, authorities said the detainee was brutally assaulted.
As part of his guilty plea, Chaparro implicated correctional officer Damion James as the one who began striking the victim “repeatedly in the chest, head, and face, causing the Victim bodily injury.”
Officers Chaparro, Luis Ortiz and Sgt. Herman Pride were all present during the alleged assault and did not intervene, authorities said. At the end of the assault, Pride allegedly said, “Okay, that’s enough,” according to the criminal complaint.
Jones, Ortiz and Pride are each charged with one count of conspiracy to violate a person’s civil rights. Their criminal cases are pending.
Chaparro originally faced the same charge, but pleaded guilty to a charge of filing a false report after he admitted not filling out a “Strip/Body Cavity Search Report” that he signed. The report indicated that no force was used, according to the complaint.
The victim was not offered medical attention until two days later when a supervisory officer in charge of the housing unit where the victim was still being held observed the man’s face, which “appeared to be swollen and discolored.” The supervisor deemed the injuries serious enough to “constitute an emergency situation.”
The victim was later treated at a local hospital.
The federal charges drew outrage from Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., who said the county “immediately reported” the assault to federal authorities upon learning of it.
“If found in violation, we support prosecuting employees to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
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