A federal grand jury in Macon, Georgia, returned a two-count indictment against former supervisory correctional officer Lieutenant Geary Staten of the Valdosta State Prison (VSP) for his role in attempting to cover up an assault on an inmate incarcerated at the facility.
The indictment charges Staten, 31, with obstruction of justice and misprision of a felony. Specifically, the indictment charges that Staten knew that, on or about Dec. 29, 2018, a number of VSP correctional officers unlawfully used force on inmate F.G. in violation of the inmate’s constitutional rights. Instead of reporting or otherwise notifying authorities of these felony violations, Staten took steps to conceal the offense by directing two of the involved officers (Officer Brian Ford and Officer Jamal Scott, both of whom have pleaded guilty to federal offenses in connection with the incident) not to write any report regarding their unlawful use of force against inmate F.G., and by providing false and misleading statements to the FBI. Sergeant Patrick Sharpe also previously pleaded guilty to a federal offense in connection with the incident.
The maximum penalty for the misprision of a felony offense is three years of imprisonment, and the maximum penalty for the obstruction of justice offense is 20 years of imprisonment. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke made the announcement.
The FBI conducted the investigation.
Trial Attorneys Katherine G. DeVar and Nicole Raspa of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.