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New York Prisoner Beaten, Guards Convicted, GEO Settles Suit for $80,000

by Matt Clarke

On July 7, 2009, three private prison guards were convicted of charges involving the unjustified beating of a New York prisoner in 2007. [See: PLN, Sept. 2009, p.50; July 2009, p.50]. A fourth guard was convicted of related charges in January 2010.

Rex Egurido, 28, a Nigerian national, was a pretrial detainee working the laundry detail at Queens Private Correc-tional Faci1ity, a private prison in Jamaica, New York operated by GEO Group, when he told GEO guard Krystal Mack, “Hello baby, you look beautiful today.” In response to Egurido’s friendly comment, Mack ordered him to wait against a wall while she told her supervisor, Lt. Marvin Wells, what he had said.

Two guards arrived and handcuffed Egurido. He was taken to another location where he was met by Wells. Wells re-moved the handcuffs and took Egurido to another room, where he ordered him to strip naked. The two escort guards, Mack and another female guard also were present. Wells told Egurido that he had insulted Mack and then proceeded to beat him – punching him multiple times in the throat and upper chest. He ordered Egurido, who was still naked, to kneel before Marks and apologize. In fear for his life, he did so.

Egurido filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action against the guards and GEO Group in U.S. District Court, alleg-ing violations of his federal constitutional rights and asserting state law claims. GEO settled the suit for $80,000 in Feb-ruary 2009. New York attorney Brett H. Klein represented Egurido in that action. See: Egurido v. GEO Group, U.S.D.C. (E.D. N.Y.), Case No. 1:08-cv-01388-SJF-RER.

Wells, Mack and GEO guards Stephen Rhodes and Kirby Gray were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to obstruct justice by covering up the incident. Wells was also indicted for using excessive force. Mack was acquitted of the conspiracy charges and Wells was acquitted of using excessive force at trial. However, Wells, Rhodes and Gray were convicted of other charges that stemmed from their making false entries in reports and lying to federal agents investigat-ing the incident.

Wells, Rhodes and Gray were sentenced in March 2010. Wells received one year and one day in prison, plus three years supervised release. Gray was sentenced to six months and three years supervised release, while Rhodes was placed on probation for three years. Mack was charged in a superseding indictment in October 2009, and found guilty of attempted corrupt persuasion on January 8, 2010. She has not yet been sentenced.

Additional sources: New York Post, New York Daily News

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Related legal case

Egurido v. GEO Group