Police charge ACI guard with assault of inmate

An Adult Correctional Institutions officer has been charged by state police with misdemeanor simple assault after an inmate alleged the guard physically forced him into a bathroom at the state prison and struck him several times.

The officer, Donald Bell, turned himself in at state police headquarters on Tuesday, state police Lt. LeRoy Rose, assistant detective commander, said yesterday. He was released on $1,000 personal recognizance.

According to the police, the incident followed a verbal confrontation between the two.

Rose said that, according to an affidavit on the arrest, witnesses corroborated seeing the alleged forcing of the inmate by Bell from a rear kitchen into the bathroom, but they did not see the alleged striking.

The inmate was not seriously injured and did not need to be taken to a hospital, according to the police and corrections. Rose said the inmate had “some minor injuries, which were consistent with assault.”

Bell is accused of committing the assault on July 3 at the ACI Intake Center in Cranston, according to Tracey Z. Poole, the state Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

Poole said the inmate has been moved into protective custody at the ACI. She said the corrections department’s special investigations unit learned of the alleged assault of the inmate on July 3 and contacted the state police. The corrections officer was put on administrative leave with pay and continues to be on leave.

Poole said there will be a disciplinary hearing — which is separate from criminal proceedings — and that the investigation is ongoing.

Bell is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge Aug. 15 in Kent County District Court.

source: http://www.projo.com/news/content/ACI_GUARD_ACCUSED_08-02-08_U3B30EM_v10.3e87561.html

Former prison guards face sentencing this morning

PROVIDENCE — Two former correction officers convicted of assaulting four inmates are scheduled for sentencing this morning.

Former Capt. Gualter Botas and Kenneth Viveiros were found guilty of 11 counts of simple assault and battery for roughing up the inmates in Botas’ office in 2005 and 2006.

Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today in Superior Court, Providence.

Special Assistant Attorney General Molly K. Cote, who prosecuted the case, has said she might seek jail time for both men.

Each misdemeanor count of simple assault and battery carries a penalty of one year in prison.

On July 31, a jury returned a judgment of guilty on all counts against Botas, 39, of Pawtucket; and Viveiros, 56, of North Providence. The jurors deliberated for less than four hours before reaching their verdict.

Matthew Gumkowski, Robert Houghton, Anthony Romano and Jose Gonzalez all took the witness stand and testified that Botas summoned them to his office at the Adult Correctional Institutions and administered beatings over contraband. Houghton, Romano and Gonzalez testified that Botas repeatedly struck them with a phonebook.

Botas was convicted of seven counts of simple assault on the inmates; while Viveiros was found guilty of four counts of simple assault on Houghton, Romano and Gonzalez.

source

http://www.beloblog.com/ProJo_Blogs/newsblog/2008/09/former-prison-g.html

Two ACI guards guilty of assault

PROVIDENCE — A jury yesterday found two former correctional officers guilty on all counts of assaulting four inmates at the state’s minimum-security prison.

Kenneth J. Viveiros, left, and Gualter Botas, right, were found guilty of all charges yesterday.

The Providence Journal / Andrew Dickerman

Former Capt. Gualter Botas, 39, of Pawtucket, was convicted on seven counts of simple assault and battery involving four inmates, and former Lt. Kenneth Viveiros, 56, of North Providence, was convicted on four counts of simple assault and battery involving three of the same inmates.

The charges are misdemeanors, and each carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison. No sentencing date has been set for Botas and Viveiros, who have been fired by the Department of Corrections and remain free on personal recognizance.

Yesterday’s verdicts, which culminated an 18-day trial before Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Procaccini, came after jurors had deliberated for less than four hours over the course of two days.

Afterward, state corrections Director A.T. Wall issued a statement that began with a quote from former President Theodore Roosevelt: “No man is above the law and no man is beneath it.”

“These two former correctional officers have now been held accountable in a court of law for their abuse of inmates entrusted to their custody,” Wall said. “They do not represent the staff of this department. In fact, through their actions, they have dishonored the 1,500 men and women who perform their jobs with pride, professionalism and integrity every day. These men and women do a very difficult job, and they do it without breaking the law.”

Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch issued a statement, saying, “Let me make myself abundantly clear: correctional officers work and walk the toughest beat in the state every day, seeing things and having to do things that most of us can only imagine, and don’t want to imagine at that.”

But Botas and Viveiros “grossly abused their positions of authority and, in the process, tarnished their badges,” Lynch said. “Such abuses of authority are an affront not only to the victims in these cases but also to the vast majority of correctional officers, who do a very difficult job very well.”

When asked if prosecutors will seek prison time for Botas and Viveiros, attorney general’s spokesman Michael J. Healey said, “That’s definitely under consideration.”

The lawyer representing Viveiros, Olin W. Thompson III, said, “We are very disappointed, obviously.” The lawyer representing Botas, John D. Lynch Jr., said the defense will file motions for a new trial, and the judge said he will hear those motions Sept. 5.

Richard Ferruccio, president of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers, said, “Obviously, we are shocked and disappointed that the jury didn’t see it the way we saw it. Inmates have a right to due process, but when due process is used as a weapon against the staff, that’s a problem.”

Ferruccio was critical of the variety of allegations of abuse, saying, “It’s like the Buddy Cianci rule, where you throw a bunch of stuff up on the wall and hope something will stick.” He was referring to the case of former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr., who was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and acquitted of 11 other charges at a trial in 2002.

Ferruccio noted that another former correctional officer, Ernest Spaziano Jr., was acquitted of assaulting one of the inmates in an earlier trial, and Spaziano testified in the trial of Botas and Viveiros, contradicting the allegations of inmate abuse. “The jury believed Ernie Spaziano in the first trial,” but this jury basically called Spaziano a liar, he said.

Ferruccio said managers wanted Botas, Viveiros and Spaziano to “clean up” the minimum-security prison because it was getting “out of control,” but now, “the administration is not supporting the staff.” He said, “They were doing their jobs. They were clamping down on inmate drug trafficking. They were not popular with the inmates.”

Corrections spokeswoman Tracey Z. Poole said Wall was surprised by Ferruccio’s comments. She quoted Wall as saying, “Surely, Officer Ferruccio doesn’t believe that our staff are ever allowed to break the law. It’s never acceptable for a sworn peace officer to break the law.”

As for the minimum-security prison being “out of control,” Wall said, “I have confidence in the administrators and fine staff at minimum security.”

Asked when a state correctional officer was last convicted of assaulting an inmate, Poole cited the 1999 trial of two officers who were convicted of beating an inmate in 1996 in the segregation unit of maximum security.

Botas was convicted on charges that he did the following:

•Punched inmate Matthew Gumkowski in the face on June 8, 2005.

•Struck inmate Robert Houghton with a phone book on Dec. 23, 2005.

•Struck inmate Anthony Romano in the head, grabbed him and pushed him into file cabinets on Jan. 30, 2006.

•Struck inmate Jose Gonzalez in the face and grabbed him by the testicles on Feb. 14, 2006.

Viveiros was convicted on charges that he did the following:

•Struck Houghton in the face on Dec. 23, 2005.

•Struck Romano on the head with a clipboard and a phone book on Jan. 30, 2006.

•Broke a package of soup on Gonzalez’s head on Feb. 14, 2006.

Botas and Viveiros displayed little emotion as the verdicts were read. At one point, Botas leaned back and shook his head slightly. Muffled sobs could be heard from relatives of the defendants. Afterward, the jury forewoman and another juror declined to comment on the record about the verdicts.

Special Assistant Attorney General Molly K. Cote, who prosecuted the case, declined to comment. Wall and Lynch said they appreciated her work.

Botas is expected to return to court this fall to be tried in another inmate-abuse case in which he is accused of forcing a prisoner to taste his own feces.

source: http://www.projo.com/corrections//aci_trial_02_08-02-08_S3B2R5P_v33.3e86533.html

Police charge ACI guard with assault of inmate

An Adult Correctional Institutions officer has been charged by state police with misdemeanor simple assault after an inmate alleged the guard physically forced him into a bathroom at the state prison and struck him several times.

The officer, Donald Bell, turned himself in at state police headquarters on Tuesday, state police Lt. LeRoy Rose, assistant detective commander, said yesterday. He was released on $1,000 personal recognizance.

According to the police, the incident followed a verbal confrontation between the two.

Rose said that, according to an affidavit on the arrest, witnesses corroborated seeing the alleged forcing of the inmate by Bell from a rear kitchen into the bathroom, but they did not see the alleged striking.

The inmate was not seriously injured and did not need to be taken to a hospital, according to the police and corrections. Rose said the inmate had “some minor injuries, which were consistent with assault.”

Bell is accused of committing the assault on July 3 at the ACI Intake Center in Cranston, according to Tracey Z. Poole, the state Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

Poole said the inmate has been moved into protective custody at the ACI. She said the corrections department’s special investigations unit learned of the alleged assault of the inmate on July 3 and contacted the state police. The corrections officer was put on administrative leave with pay and continues to be on leave.

Poole said there will be a disciplinary hearing — which is separate from criminal proceedings — and that the investigation is ongoing.

Bell is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge Aug. 15 in Kent County District Court.

source: http://www.projo.com/news/content/ACI_GUARD_ACCUSED_08-02-08_U3B30EM_v10.3e87561.html

Trial begins for ACI guards charged with assaulting inmates

PROVIDENCE — Testimony began this week in the trial of two former correctional officers who are charged with assaulting inmates at the state’s minimum-security prison.

Capt. Gualter Botas, 39, of Pawtucket, faces seven counts of simple assault involving four inmates, and Lt. Kenneth J. Viveiros, 56, of North Providence, faces four counts of simple assault involving three of the same inmates.

This fall, Botas is expected to return to court to be tried in another inmate-abuse case in which he is accused of forcing a prisoner to taste his own feces.

During Superior Court testimony on Wednesday and Thursday, former inmate Matthew S. Gumkowski testified that Botas “sucker-punched” him after he made a vulgar suggestion to the captain on June 8, 2005.

At the time, Gumkowski, 27, of East Greenwich, was serving sentences on drug delivery and weapon possession charges, and he was caught with a $20 bill at the minimum-security facility. Paper currency is prohibited at the prison unless inmates are on work release.

Gumkowski said he was brought into Gotas’ office in handcuffs and told to sit at a desk. He said Gotas began questioning him about where he got the $20 bill, insisting that the money came from a visitor.

Gumkowski said he kept responding that the $20 had already been in the prison. “I finally got sick of him talking to me,” he testified. So he made a vulgar suggestion to Gotas.

The captain then punched him from behind, Gumkowski said. “I couldn’t see it coming at all,” he said.

Gumkowski said the punch landed near his right eye and cheek bone and he began bleeding. “It was split open,” he said. “He threw some napkins at me and said, ‘Go ahead and do something and I’ll call a code.’ ”

Special Assistant Attorney General Molly K. Cote asked what calling a code means. “If I was trying to fight with him, he’d call for backup,” Gumkowski said.

Gumkowski said Botas told the prison nurse that he had dropped a weight on himself.

Gumkowski said he was left with a “small scar” on his face, and he stood before members of the jury, pointing out the scar.

Cote asked if he made any effort to report what happened to authorities. “No,” Gumkowski said. “I had a parole coming up and I didn’t want to interfere with the hearing on parole.” He said the state police interviewed him about seven months after the alleged assault.

During cross-examination, John D. Lynch Jr., the lawyer for Botas, asked Gumkowski if he works out. “I do,” he said. Lynch asked if Gumkowski had told correctional officers that he had the $20 to buy workout belts. “No,” he said.

Lynch asked Gumkowski if he had injured himself with a barbell. “No,” he said. Lynch also asked Gumkowski if he had told the nurse he injured himself with a barbell. “I didn’t tell her that,” he replied.

Both Lynch and Olin W. Thompson III, the lawyer for Viveiros, zeroed in on how Gumkowski obtained the $20 bill. Lynch asked if the $20 was found after Gumkowski had visited with his girlfriend in the prison yard. Gumkowski said that visit had been earlier in the day, and he said he got the $20 by selling cigarettes to another inmate. When Lynch asked which inmate, Gumkowski said, “I don’t know.” Lynch asked, “Do you not want to tell me?” Gumkowski said, “Correct.”

Gumkowski indicated that being found with the $20 marked the first time he had been “booked” for violating prison rules, but Lynch pointed out that he had been also booked for “willful destruction of property” in prison in 2003.

Lynch noted Gumkowski had violated the terms of prior sentences, saying, “When you were sentenced, you promised to keep the peace and be of good behavior. Did you do that?” Gumkowski said, “No.” Lynch said, “You promised to tell the truth here today. Are you doing that?” Gumkowski said, “I am.”

At another point, Cote asked Gumkowski if he was aware of penalties inmates can face for violating prison rules. “Yes,” he said. Cote then asked, “Have you ever heard of assault by a captain being a valid punishment for a booking?” Defense lawyers objected to that question.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Tuesday before Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Procaccini. The trial, which is expected to last three to four weeks, also will include charges that Botas and Viveiros assaulted three other inmates: Robert Houghton, Anthony Romano and Jose Gonzalez.

In February 2007, District Court Judge Madeline Quirk found Botas, Viveiros and correctional officer Ernest Spaziano guilty of assaulting Gonzalez, an inmate who was serving a sentence on a drug conviction. The three officers appealed their convictions to Superior Court. Spaziano, 40, of Burrillville, was the first to go to trial in Superior Court, and earlier this year he was found not guilty of assaulting Gonzalez.

Now, Botas and Viveiros are receiving a Superior Court trial. Originally, the trial was to include allegations that Botas forced inmate Michael Walsh to taste his own feces.

But Michael J. Healey, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said Procaccini granted a defense motion to sever that allegation from the others. He said the judge told prosecutors they could either try all the allegations at once while not using evidence that Walsh was “allegedly made to eat his own feces” — or they could use that evidence and try the Walsh allegation separately. Prosecutors chose to have a separate trial.

“The judge’s rationale is he found that evidence in the Walsh allegation was too inflammatory regarding Mr. Viveiros,” Healey said. “It could affect Mr. Viveiros’ right to a fair trial.”

The Department of Corrections fired Botas and Viveiros, and it stopped paying them on Feb. 12, 2007, department spokeswoman Tracey Z. Poole said yesterday.

Richard Ferruccio, president of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers, said the Department of Corrections is refusing to put Spaziano back to work although he was acquitted. Once the trials are done, the union will pursue arbitration to get Spaziano back on the job, and it will do the same for Botas and Viveiros if they are acquitted and want to return to work, he said.

source: http://www.projo.com/news/content/aci_guards_trial_07-12-08_THAQCAQ_v40.3bedb8e.html

Older stories can be found under Sites of interest

Under the old cosgoingwrong link On the right side of the home page.

start

02/28/08