June 12, 2014

Jury Convicts Prisoner of Assaulting Counselor

SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced an inmate at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield was convicted in federal court today of assaulting a federal correctional counselor at the facility.

Willard Begay, 34, an inmate at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, was found guilty of punching a counselor in the face and throwing a computer printer at the counselor’s face.

Evidence introduced during the trial indicated that a counselor at the prison facility met with Begay on October 1, 2012, to discuss the friction Begay was having with fellow inmates and to move Begay to another unit in order to eliminate the brewing conflict between Begay and fellow inmates. At the conclusion of their meeting, the counselor was attempting to secure Begay to move him to the new unit. The counselor grabbed Begay’s left arm in order to handcuff him, when Begay abruptly turned toward the counselor and punched him in the face with a closed fist. The counselor lost his balance and fell back a few feet. While he was still dazed from the punch, Begay removed a printer from a table in the office, raised it above his head, and smashed the printer onto the counselor’s face.

The counselor radioed for assistance and correctional officers entered the room and handcuffed Begay after a struggle. The counselor was transported to the hospital emergency room. A physician determined that he sustained an orbital floor fracture. The physician closed the wound with sutures and recommended the counselor to follow up with a plastic surgeon.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Missouri, deliberated for two hours before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool, ending a trial that began Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

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. Attorneys Abram McGull, II and Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the FBI.