Two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were indicted for allegedly assaulting a handcuffed inmate at the Men's Central Jail and filing false reports aimed at covering up the abuse by accusing the inmate of attacking the deputies, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.
The indictment of Joey Aguiar, 26, and Mariano Ramirez, 38, was the latest federal action taken against members of the Sheriff's Department as part of a sweeping probe of inmate-abuse in the county jails.
Aguiar and Ramirez were expected to be ordered to appear in court for arraignment March 6.
According to the indictment, Aguiar and Ramirez illegally used force against the victim -- identified in the indictment as "BP" -- in the jail on Feb. 11, 2009.
While the inmate was handcuffed and secured with a "waist chain," the deputies allegedly punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and used a flashlight to beat the victim.
Soon after the attack, the deputies allegedly wrote bogus reports designed to cover up the illegal use of force, falsely contending that the inmate had tried to head-butt and kick the deputies.
Based on those bogus reports, sheriff's investigators presented a case to the District Attorney's Office for consideration of possible additional charges against the inmate, according to prosecutors.
The indictment charges both defendants with conspiring to violate civil rights and with deprivation of rights under color of law that caused bodily injury. Each of those charges carry a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
The indictment also charges Aguiar with one count of falsification of records for submitting a report that allegedly "falsely stated, among other things, that victim-inmate BP had attempted to head-butt deputy Aguiar's face and that victim-inmate BP violently kicked at deputy Aguiar."
Ramirez was also charged with falsification of records for submitting a report that falsely stated the victim had "viciously kicked his legs at deputies."
The charge of falsification of records carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Eighteen current and former sheriff's deputies were indicted earlier on various corruption and civil rights offenses stemming from the federal probe of activities inside county jails.
All of those previously charged have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial later this year.
The federal crackdown was a contributing factor to the recent retirement of Sheriff Lee Baca.
—City News Service