Two former Fayette County jail employees were sentenced in federal court Wednesday for their roles in the systematic abuse of inmates.
Judge Karen K. Caldwell sentenced Scott Tyree, 47, a former officer at the Fayette County Detention Center, to 18 months in prison and two years of supervised release, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release. She sentenced Anthony Estep, 35, a former sergeant and supervisor at the jail, to 12 months and one day in prison and one year of supervised release.
Tyree pleaded guilty May 14, 2009, to conspiring to deprive detainees of their constitutional rights by physically abusing them and by writing false and misleading incident reports to conceal the abuse, the Justice Department said.
Tyree testified for the government during the trial of two co-defendants, John McQueen, 33, and Clarence McCoy, 31, who were convicted by a federal jury May 13, 2010, on similar charges.
Caldwell recognized Tyree's testimony and gave him a reduced sentence.
Tyree's attorney, Fred Peters of Lexington, said he asked the judge for 12 months, but prosecutors wanted 24 months. Tyree could have received 30 months to 37 months in prison, Peters said.
He said Tyree expressed remorse in court Wednesday. Tyree noted the culture of third-shift intake at the time and said he'd gotten caught up in that environment, although not to the extent that other jail employees participated, Peters said.
"He just kind of got caught up in the situation," Peters said.
Estep also pleaded guilty May 14, 2009, to a civil rights charge for failing to intervene while another officer assaulted a restrained inmate. And he pleaded guilty to an obstruction of justice charge for bringing false charges against an inmate in order to prevent that inmate from reporting an incident of abuse that he had witnessed.
Estep's attorney could not be reached Wednesday evening.
"The power granted to correctional officers so that they can perform their critical public safety duties does not give them free rein to abuse the civil and constitutional rights of inmates under their supervision," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division, in a news release. "Those officers who abuse their power and the public trust in this way will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
A fifth defendant, Kristine Lafoe, 44, pleaded guilty May 14, 2009, to conspiring to obstruct justice by instructing officers under her command to falsify reports to conceal acts of abuse, the Justice Department said. She was sentenced on Nov. 19, 2009, to 12 months in prison and two years of supervised release.