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  • mcprison mcprison Apr 12, 2002 10:08 PM Flag

    Wackenhut guards convicted

    The Associated Press

    April 12, 2002, Friday, BC cycle

    9:00 PM Eastern Time

    SECTION: State and Regional

    LENGTH: 829 words

    HEADLINE: Guards convicted in violating inmate's civil rights

    DATELINE: ROSWELL, N.M.

    BODY:

    Two ex-guards from a privately run Hobbs prison were convicted Friday of
    civil rights violations in the 1998 beating of an inmate and of conspiring with
    a third guard to cover it up.

    Lt. Matias Serrata, Lt. William Fuller and Kendall Lipscomb of Wackenhut
    Corrections Corp. were all found guilty of obstructing justice with the cover-up
    and of conspiring to obstruct justice. Serrata and Fuller also were convicted of
    violating the civil rights of inmate Eric Duran, who was kicked several times in
    the head.

    A fourth guard, Gary Butler, who had pleaded guilty earlier to civil rights
    and conspiracy charges, testified that he had hit himself in the face at the
    suggestion of Fuller, then went to Hobbs police with a story that the inmate had
    attacked him.

    "Those who we trust to enforce the law have one of the most difficult and
    important of all jobs," U.S. Attorney David Iglesias said in a statement
    released Friday. "When anyone in such a position violates the rights of others,
    they not only injure the individual but they also injure the vast majority of
    law enforcement officers who perform their duties with honor."

    Defense attorney Mario Esparza said he "definitely" plans to appeal.

    "This, I think, really was a classic case of selective prosecution," said
    Esparza, representing Serrata, who was accused of allowing the beating to
    proceed.

    The beating happened after Duran refused to sit in an assigned seat in the
    prison dining hall and got in an argument with Lipscomb and another guard,
    Justice Department attorneys said in court records.

    Esparza said Serrata was singled out because he is a lieutenant. He said
    Serrata never saw the beating and did not permit it. Meanwhile, he said, four or
    five other guards were in better positions to see - and did see - what happened
    and were not charged.

    Furthermore, there were at least four or five guards who were in position to
    stop the beating and who did nothing and also were not charged, Esparza said.

    The warden wrote a letter stating that Serrata was not in position to have
    seen what happened.

    Serrata had said the incident happened within 30 or 40 seconds while a riot
    was going on in an adjoining dining area.

    The Lea County Correctional Facility, which holds up to 1,200 inmates, is run
    by Wackenhut.

 
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