Former Lucas County corrections officer found guilty of civil rights violations

A former Lucas County corrections officer was taken into custody Tuesday after a federal jury found him guilty of three civil rights violations.

Seth Bunke, 26, now of Jacksonville, N.C., was charged with five counts of deprivation of rights under the color of law after being accused of assaulting four inmates at the jail while he was an employee there and with portraying himself as a police officer when he stopped a driver he suspected of drunken driving.

The trial in U.S. District Court in Toledo lasted five days.

The jury of 10 women and two men found him not guilty of two of the charges involving inmates at the jail. He was found guilty of incidents that occurred on May 6, 2007, and July 11, 2007, as well as detaining a driver and his passenger on March 13, 2007.

Two of the charges Bunke was found guilty of carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison each. The third charge, involving inmate Jeffery Jones, carries a maximum of up to 10 years in prison.

A sentencing date has not yet been set. Judge Jack Zouhary ordered Bunke into custody after the verdicts were read, asking that he not be housed in the Lucas County jail.

Defense attorney Rick Kerger said Bunke will be housed in the federal prison in Milan, Mich., until he is sentenced. Mr. Kerger added that he will be filing a motion for a new trial on the count involving Jones.

In that case, federal prosecutors said Bunke repeatedly kicked inmate Jones in the head and side after a verbal altercation that occurred while the prisoner was being strip searched.

Jones, who was incarcerated on a probation violation on an original drug charge, was hospitalized for several days after the incident with a collapsed lung. He has since sued Bunke, the county, and the sheriff’s department.

The jury deliberated for about 2 ½ hours before reaching a verdict.