Kentucky prison supervisor convicted of covering up assaults

Mar 14, 2023, 3:28 PM

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — A former supervisor at a federal prison in Kentucky has been convicted of writing false reports to cover up assaults on two inmates by corrections officers.

Kevin Pearce, a former federal Bureau of Prisons lieutenant, was convicted on two counts of obstruction Monday after a six-day trial. Pearce, 38, was a former supervisor at the U.S. Penitentiary Big Sandy in eastern Kentucky. He could spend up to 20 years in prison, and his sentencing is scheduled for July 5.

Pearce was supervising two corrections officers when they assaulted an inmate in 2021 by pepper spraying the inmate and kicking him in the head, according to evidence presented at trial. The two guards, Samuel Patrick and Clinton Pauley, testified at the trial that they attacked the inmate for walking too slowly to his cell, according to a release by the U.S. Department of Justice. Both said the inmate was not a threat, but Pearce wrote a report that said the inmate was violent and omitted that the inmate was kicked while laying on the ground, according to the Justice Department.

A month later the the two guards committed another assault, this time on an inmate who had asked Pearce for protection from other inmates, according to evidence at the trial. The two guards “repeatedly struck him in the head and body,” and Pearce later wrote a false report that claimed the inmate went back to his cell without incident.

Patrick and Pauley were indicted in May on charges of violating victims’ constitutional rights as members of law enforcement. They both testified at Pearce’s trial and both men reached plea agreements with prosecutors in February. They are scheduled to be sentenced in June.

“While serving their sentence, inmates are entitled to equal protections under the law,” said Jodi Cohen, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Louisville field office. “When a few correctional officers choose to violate those protections, either by physical abuse or by orchestrating a cover-up, the integrity of all officers is questioned.”

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Kentucky prison supervisor convicted of covering up assaults