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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sheriff's Sergeant Guilty on Civil Rights Charges

Telb trial follow-up: two convicted, two acquitted
WTVG - December 6, 2010

A jury found Sheriff James Telb and Captain Robert McBroom did not try to cover up a crime at the Lucas County jail. Two other defendants are looking at jail time. John Gray's attorney wasn't sure about an appeal, but attorneys for Jay Schmeltz say they're appealing the decision. Retired sergeant John Gray left the courthouse without talking to reporters. Retired deputy Jay Schmeltz was also staying tight-lipped. Both men were convicted of crimes associated with the death of Lucas County jail inmate Carlton Benton in 2004 and the alleged cover-up. Gray was convicted of violating Benton's civil rights by not getting him medical care after he was rendered unconscious in his jail cell. He was also found guilty of falsifying a critical incident report and a shift commander's report. Schmeltz was convicted of falsifying a correction officer report. Telb's attorney Richard Kerger said, "I'm sorry for the conviction of the other defendants because I think under the law as I understood, they shouldn't have been convicted but obviously the jury did a very careful job analyzing the evidence. You can tell by the way they came back." While the criminal case may be over, the family of Carlton Benton has a civil suit against Lucas County and the sheriff's office, specifically mentioning the sheriff, McBroom, Schmeltz and Gray. Sentencing hasn't been scheduled yet, but with sentencing guidelines, both could face up to 20 years behind bars.

Department of Justice Press Release

For Immediate Release
December 3, 2010 U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888

Lucas County, Ohio Sheriff’s Sergeant Guilty on Federal Civil Rights Charges

WASHINGTON, DC—A jury found former Lucas County Sheriff’s Sergeant John E Gray guilty on charges of federal civil rights and records falsification violations relating to the in custody death of a detainee at the Lucas County Jail, the Justice Department announced today. Former Lucas County Deputy Jay Schmeltz was convicted on a charge of filing a false report about the incident. Lucas County Sheriff James Telb and Internal Affairs Capt. Robert McBroom were acquitted on charges related to an alleged subsequent cover-up of the role that jail personnel played in the 2004 death of Carlton Benton. “The investigation and prosecution of this case shows that the Department of Justice does not tolerate abuse of authority by the people we entrust to enforce our laws,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division. “Today’s verdict shows the seriousness of these crimes.” “Six years after the death of Carlton Benton, a jury has heard the evidence and finally assigned accountability both for what happened that day in 2004,” said Steven Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “We accept today’s verdicts as the outcome of a fair trial at which the defendants got their day in court—an opportunity Carlton Benton never got.” On May 30, 2004, former Deputy Sheriff John E. Gray assaulted a detainee in a cell at the Lucas County Jail and then left the detainee lying unconscious without seeking medical help for him, according to the charges. Thereafter, according to the charges, Deputies Gray and Schmeltz wrote false reports concealing the incidents and made false statements to the FBI. Gray faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison, and Schmeltz faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Cleveland Division. The case is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Kristy Parker and Trial Attorney Ryan McKinstry of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Bamberger.

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