NEWARK, NJ – A prison officer at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, New Jersey, was arrested today for allegedly assaulting and physically punishing inmates, acting prosecutor Rachael A. Honig said.
John Makos, 41, of Millville, New Jersey, has been charged with participating in a conspiracy to deprive inmates of their civil rights. Makos is scheduled to appear this afternoon by videoconference before US trial judge James B. Clark 3rd.
“Prisoners have the right to be treated with basic dignity, not to be clubbed and humiliated at the whim of correctional officers,” Acting US Attorney Honig said. “We reaffirm once again our commitment to defend the civil rights of all people, including those living in corrections. “
“Our investigation alleges that the actions in this case included beatings of people without provocation or justification in violation of their civil rights,” said FBI Special Agent George M. Crouch Jr. “A badge is not an authorization to abuse the power it confers or to deny the civil rights of those in its custody. Whether the wearer is from a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, or correctional facility, we all have the same responsibility to respect and defend the rights of those in our care. Let’s be clear, the FBI protects and defends the rights of all of our fellow citizens. We will go where we need to to eliminate illegal activity and stop perpetrators. “
According to the documents filed in this case and the statements made in court:
From at least April 2019 to December 2019, while working as a prison officer, Makos conspired with others at Bayside State Prison to cruelly and arbitrarily assault and punish some inmates using excessive force. which caused physical injury and pain to the victims. Makos and at least one other prison officer established an ad hoc regime of corporal punishment for actual and perceived violations of prison rules and customs and inflicted these punishments in a cruel and degrading manner, sometimes with the help of other inmates. .
Makos and at least one other correctional officer assaulted an inmate victim using what inmates called “the fence treatment”: one of the victim’s arms was reportedly handcuffed to a fence in the back of the kitchen. prison and the other arm would be handcuffed to a swinging door, so that the inmate appears to be crucified. Another inmate, working with Makos and at least one other correctional officer, moved the swinging door so that the victim inmate’s body expanded and collapsed while Makos and at least one other correctional officer kicked closed fists on the victim’s body.
Makos and at least one other prison officer also attempted to ensure that their victims did not report the abuse to prison authorities by tricking inmates into believing that if they did report the abuse, they would lose their kitchen work, income. associated with these jobs, and access to better and more abundant food, all of which were highly valued within the prison.
The charge of conspiracy to violate civil rights carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig assigned the investigation to Special Agents of the FBI Atlantic City Residents’ Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark. She also thanked the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the leadership of Acting Commissioner Victoria Kuhn, for their assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant US Attorney Sara F. Merin of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark and Trial Prosecutor Shan Patel of the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice.
The charge and the allegations contained in the complaint are only charges, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.