February 18, 2015

Former Corrections Officers Charged with Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights

PANAMA CITY, FL—A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging that William F. Finch, 35, of Wauseau, Florida, Dalton E. Riley, 24, of Bethlehem, Florida, James F. Perkins, 39, of Graceville, Florida, Robert L. Miller, 48, of Lynn Haven, Florida, and Christopher B. Christmas, 32, of Chipley, Florida, conspired to violate the civil rights of an inmate at the Northwest Florida Reception Center (“NWFRC”), a state prison in Chipley, Florida. The indictment was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

The indictment alleges that, on August 5, 2014, the defendants physically assaulted an inmate at NWFRC without justification and caused the inmate bodily injury. To cover-up the defendants’ actions, the indictment further alleges that defendant William Finch falsified reports of the incident by falsely stating that the assault was in response to the inmate spitting on another officer. The arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, February 26, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Larry A. Bodiford at the United States Courthouse, 30 West Government Street, Panama City, Florida.

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Corrections—Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gayle E. Littleton. United States Attorney Marsh expressed her deep appreciation for the dedicated and difficult work by the investigative team.

An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. The office strives to protect and serve the citizens of the Northern District of Florida through the ethical, vigorous, and impartial enforcement of the laws of the United States, to defend the national security, to improve the safety and quality of life in our communities through the protection of civil rights, and to protect the public funds and financial assets of the United States. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.