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Three-Year Sentence for One of Four BOP Employees Charged With Ignoring Fatally Ill Federal Prisoner in Virginia

On November 28, 2023, a federal judge in Virginia sentenced a former lieutenant with the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to a three-year term for failing to intervene in a prisoner’s preventable death at the Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg.

As PLN reported, Michael Anderson, 52, pleaded guilty on July 12, 2023, to violating the civil rights of the 47-year-old prisoner, Wade Waters, by showing deliberate indifference to his serious medical need. After a subordinate guard reported the prisoner was suffering a serious medical emergency in January 2021, Anderson passed up not one but two opportunities to get assistance for the man, who spent the last 100 minutes of his life on a cell floor, waiting for help that never came. [See: PLN, Sep. 2023, p.63.]

After Anderson was notified that Waters was in distress on January 9, 2021, he promised to get help for the prisoner but didn’t. When told the next day that Waters had collapsed, Anderson again failed to summon assistance. Special Agent in Charge Russell W. Cunningham of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General decried the guard’s “appalling indifference” for causing “needless loss of life.”

In addition to his prison term, Anderson was ordered by the federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia to serve three years of post-release supervision and pay a $100 special assessment, along with restitution in an amount still to be determined. See: United States v. Anderson, USDC (E.D. Va.), Case No. 3:23-cr-00080.

Three other BOP employees have also been indicted in Waters’ death. Charges are still pending against Anderson’s fellow guard Lt. Shronda Covington, 47, as well as Registered Nurse Tonya Farley, 52, and Senior Officer Specialist Yolanda Blackwell, 45. See: United States v. Covington, USDC (E.D. Va.), Case No. 3:23-cr-00068.  

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Related legal case

United States v. Anderson