DUBLIN (CBS SF) – Three current Alameda County sheriff’s deputies and one former deputy were arraigned Tueday on charges including assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice for their roles in the alleged mistreatment of inmates at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Sheriff’s investigators said the four deputies allegedly facilitated and allowed an inmate to throw bodily fluids, including feces and urine, onto other inmates housed in a maximum-security unit of the jail.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office filed the charges against Sarah Krause, 26, Justin Linn, 23, of Tracy, Erik McDermott, 27, of Concord, and Stephen Sarcos, 30, of Concord, on Friday. All four are free on bail.
Linn is charged with four counts of felony assault by a public officer, one count of dissuading a witness by force a threat and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. His bail had been $135,000, but at the request of prosecutor Patrick Moriarty Alameda County Superior Court Judge Armando Cuellar increased it to $340,000 Tuesday.
McDermott is charged with two counts of assault and one count each of dissuading a witness and conspiracy. His bail also had been $135,000 but Cuellar increased it to $320,000.
Krause and Sarcos are each charged with single counts of assault for a single incident in the fall of 2016. Their bail remains at $35,000.
The four deputies are scheduled to return to court on Sept. 11, when they will ask that their bails be decreased and may possibly enter pleas.
Linn and McDermott have until then to post their increased bail amounts.
According to Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly, Krause, Linn and McDermott have been placed on administrative leave and Sarcos has resigned.
Sheriff’s officials said staff at Santa Rita brought the allegations of misconduct to their attention in January and they conducted an investigation that focused on incidents at the jail between the summer and fall of 2016.
Sheriff’s officials said it was determined that the allegations were criminal in nature and Sheriff Gregory Ahern assigned the investigation to detectives at the Eden Township Substation in San Leandro.
Authorities said more than 40 people were interviewed during the investigation, including sheriff’s office employees, Alameda County inmates and inmates at various state prisons.
In announcing the charges, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said, “These four deputies directed, facilitated, enabled and committed sadistic and terrorizing acts against several men whose protection fell directly within the responsibility of their positions as correctional officers. The conduct of these four defendants violates the law and there is no rational explanation for their actions aside from abject cruelty and a disregard for the humanity of the inmates.”
O’Malley said, “It is the mission of the sheriff’s office to protect life and property while providing humane treatment to those in its custody. Those entrusted with supervising and caring for individuals while incarcerated must be held to the highest ethical and professional standards.”
O’Malley said the investigation in the case revealed that McDermott choked an inmate into unconsciousness.
Sheriff’s Detective Patrick Smyth wrote in a probable cause statement that Linn and McDermott told inmates to spread the word that one of their fellow inmates was a “snitch.”
Smyth said one inmate who cooperated with investigators said he didn’t go along with the request by Linn and McDermott that he label the fellow inmate a snitch but “it was apparent to him that Linn and McDermott were hoping he would do as they asked so that Victim 1 (the inmate who was to be labeled a snitch) would be dissuaded from cooperating with law enforcement.”
Smyth wrote that Sarcos and Krause admitted that in September 2016 they unlocked an inmate’s cell door and a victim inmate’s cell door so that the first inmate could assault the victim by throwing feces at him.
Smyth also said that one of the victims in the case suffers from mental illness.
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