Former Federal Corrections Officer Sentenced to Life in Prison on Civil Rights Charges Related to Fatal Assault
|U.S. Department of Justice October 26, 2009|
WASHINGTON—Erin Sharma, a former corrections officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was sentenced today in federal court in Orlando, Fla., on federal civil rights charges related to the fatal assault of an inmate, announced Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney A. Brian Albritton of the Middle District of Florida. Sharma was sentenced to serve a term of life in prison, three years of post-release supervision, and 75 hours of community service.
On July 29, 2009, a federal jury in Orlando found Sharma guilty of two felony federal civil rights charges related to the fatal assault of federal inmate Richard Delano in March 2005. The evidence at trial showed that on Feb. 28, 2005, Sharma and a co-conspirator agreed to move Delano into the cell of another inmate at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Fla. The evidence also showed that Sharma and the co-conspirator knew that the other inmate was likely to assault Delano and that this move was in retaliation for a prior altercation between Delano and Sharma. Sharma also encouraged the inmate to assault Delano. The co-conspirator moved Delano into the inmate’s cell on March 1, 2005, and the inmate assaulted Delano three days later, on March 4. On March 17, 2005, Delano died from the injuries he suffered during that assault.
“The brave work of our nation’s law enforcement officers must be guided by adherence to the laws they are sworn to uphold, and the overwhelming majority of officers abide by that principle,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez. “When law enforcement officers betray the great trust placed in them by abusing the individuals in their custody, the Justice Department will vigorously investigate, prosecute and seek appropriate punishment for those actions.”
“Nothing justifies or excuses the defendant’s outrageous conduct in this case,” said U.S. Attorney A. Brian Albritton. “When correction officers make the corrupt choice to act as judge, jury and executioner, the United States will prosecute such actions aggressively, just as it did here.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bruce Ambrose and Carolyn Adams from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Douglas Kern from the Civil Rights Division. FBI Special Agent Jim Raby was the lead investigator on the case.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, including those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement or other government officials.