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False Reports Filed by Private Prison Guards Can Support Federal Obstruction Charges

On April 28, 2011 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the convictions of two former private prison guards accused of obstructing an investigation into the assault of a prisoner.

Rex Eguridu was assaulted by guards at the Queens Private Correctional Facility after calling a female guard “baby,” and telling her that she looked beautiful. Marvin Wells and Stephen Rhodes filed false reports about the assault, and later lied to federal investigators when interviewed.

Wells and Rhodes argued on appeal that their obstruction convictions could not stand because their behavior did not involve “a matter within the jurisdiction” of the Department of Justice. The Second Circuit, however, disagreed.

“We hold that an internal investigation by a privately owned prison that houses federal prisoners of an allegation of excessive force involves a ‘matter within the jurisdiction’ of the Department of Justice for purpose of 18 U.S.C. §1519,” the court wrote. See: United States v. Gray, 642 F.3d 371 (2nd Cir. 2011).

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Related legal case

United States v. Gray