Friday, July 07, 2023

Former Eastern Kentucky Correctional Officers Plead Guilty in Inmate Assault and Cover-Up Case

Two former Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex (EKCC) officers have pleaded guilty for their roles in the assault of a restrained inmate and subsequent cover-up, according to court documents. The officers, Randall T. Dennis, 28, and Nathan M. Cantrell, 32, admitted their involvement in the incident.

In their plea agreements, Dennis pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of the inmate's civil rights, while Cantrell pleaded guilty to four counts of obstruction of justice for attempting to conceal the assault. The incident took place on July 24, 2018, when correctional officers assaulted a nonviolent inmate who was restrained and isolated in a prison shower cell. Dennis admitted to repeatedly striking the inmate despite his compliance, while Cantrell falsified records and lied during the investigation.

This case is part of a series of guilty pleas by former EKCC officers in related incidents. James Benish pleaded guilty to deprivation of civil rights for failing to intervene, Randy Nickell pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for covering up the assault, Jeffery Havens pleaded guilty to deprivation of civil rights for his own assault of the inmate, and Derek Mays pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for his efforts to conceal the incident.

Dennis and Cantrell are scheduled to be sentenced on December 11. Dennis could face up to 10 years in prison, while Cantrell faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for each obstruction of justice charge. The final sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge considering various factors and sentencing guidelines.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Carlton S. Shier IV for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen of the FBI Louisville Field Office, and Colonel Phillip Burnett Jr., Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police. The investigation was conducted by the FBI, Kentucky State Police, and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zach Dembo and Mary Melton from the Eastern District of Kentucky, along with Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section, are prosecuting the case.

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