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Fla. sheriff: 2 COs used scalding water to make jail inmates compliant

The sheriff said rumors circulating in the jail prompted the “ugly” investigation and the conclusions “sickened” him

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By Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer

VILLAS, FLa. — Two Florida corrections officers are now locked in the jail they once guarded after investigators found evidence they used scalding water to burn inmates, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Officers Casey Howell and Enzo Finamore were fired Feb. 21 and arrested on charges of assaulting inmates with cups of hot water, Sheriff Carmine Marceno said at a news conference.

“During routine checks, injuries were observed on a inmate housed in a direct observation,” Marceno said in a tweet.

“The deputy conducting checks notified a supervisor immediately. The investigation found three inmates had first and second degree burns.”

An inquiry determined the burns had been caused when the two deputies “threw scalding hot water from a water dispenser onto the inmates to gain compliance,” Marceno said.

The inmates were housed in an area designated for prisoners deemed violent or a danger to themselves or others, he said.

Howell, who joined the department in 2022, was charged with felony official misconduct, felony battery and misdemeanor battery, officials said.

Finamore was hired in 2021 and charged with felony official misconduct and misdemeanor battery, officials said.

Marceno said rumors circulating in the jail prompted the “ugly” investigation and the conclusions “sickened” him.

“They disgraced the badge,” Marceno said.

“Corrections officers have a responsibility of maintaining the welfare of inmates under our care. From common thieves all the way up to murderers on trial, my corrections bureau is responsible for their safety and security. This never allows a person to mistreat or brutalize another human being.”

Identities of the three inmates were not released. Their injuries included redness on their chests and arms, and they were treated at the detention center.

Marceno noted dozens of interviews were conducted during the investigation and he was confident there were no other victims.

Among the remedies put in place, he said, was the removal of hot water dispensers in that wing, and adding a supervisor to the direct observation unit.

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