Matthew Pendley, 26, a former corrections officer at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty today to one count of obstructing justice when he lied to law enforcement during their investigation of the assault on an inmate at the hands of another corrections officer.
According to court documents, during the early morning hours of Dec. 21, 2011, Pendley was assigned to the Receiving-Discharge-Transfer (RDT) Unit at MDC where individuals are brought to be booked soon after they are arrested. During the course of his shift, Pendley entered the shower room/dress out area and witnessed Demetrio Gonzales, another corrections officer, assaulting an inmate. The inmate was not posing a physical threat to anyone, and therefore, the assault was not justified. There was no legitimate law enforcement purpose for Gonzales to use force on the inmate. As a result of the assault, the inmate sustained injuries and began bleeding. When the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) began investigating, instead of telling detectives that he witnessed the assault, Pendley lied, claiming that he did not remember what Gonzales was doing in the shower room/dress out area.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Demetrio Gonzales previously pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of the inmate by choking and striking the inmate multiple times. He was sentenced on Jan. 8, 2013, to 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised released.
A third former MDC corrections officer, Kevin Casaus, was also indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2012 on related charges. Casaus is charged with violating the victim’s civil right rights when he shoved and struck the victim while in the shower area/dress out area. Casaus is further charged with obstruction of justice and falsification of records, first for making false statements to detectives of the BCSO and then for falsifying his incident report. Casaus’ trial is set for March 4, 2013. He is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark T. Baker for the District of New Mexico and Trial Attorney Fara Gold of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.