A Saugerties woman is one of three current or former state corrections officers facing federal civil rights charges stemming from the 2013 beating of an inmate at a Dutchess County prison.
Kathy Scott, 42, was named in an indictment unsealed last week in U.S. District Court Southern District of New York in White Plains. Scott, along with former state corrections officers George Santiago Jr. and Carson Morris, was charged with deprivation of civil rights under color law, conspiracy and falsifying records for their roles in the Nov. 12, 2013 beating of inmate Kevin Moore. Two other guards, referred to as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the case are expected to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for their testimony.
Scott was a corrections sergeant at Downstate Correctional Facility on that day in 2013 when Moore, 54, was brought in from Coxsackie Correctional Facility for an overnight stay en route to a court proceeding in New York City. According to the indictment the beating occurred as Moore and another inmate were being escorted to their cells by a team of corrections officers. According to the indictment, Moore began to protest when he realized that he would be housed in a special unit set aside for prisoners with mental health issues. Scott allegedly arrived on the scene after the officers escorting Moore called for backup. According to the indictment, Moore continued to protest his assignment to the mental health cell and told officers, “I’m a monster.”
At that point, the indictment reads, Morris initiated the beating by punching Moore and hitting him with a baton. Other officers joined in the assault, pinning the inmate to ground, punching and kicking him.
Scott allegedly watched the beating and did nothing to stop the assault even when Moore pleaded with her calling out, “Why, Sarge, why? Make it stop.” Instead, Scott allegedly ordered officers to hold Moore down on the ground, rendering him more vulnerable to attack. According to the indictment, Moore never threatened or attacked the officers and was never given any orders to comply with during the attack.
According to the indictment, after the beating Moore — who suffered facial fractures, broken ribs, collapsed lung and other injuries — was hauled to his feet and placed in a cell overnight without medical treatment. Meanwhile, Santiago allegedly picked up a dreadlock that had been ripped from Moore’s head during the assault, telling fellow officers he planned to use the hair to decorate his motorcycle. According to a federal lawsuit filed by Moore, he was in such bad shape following the assault that corrections officers at Rikers Island refused to take him into custody until his injuries were photographed and documented. Instead of transferring him to the New York City jail, the Rikers staff took him to a Queens hospital where he spent two weeks recovering from his injuries.
According to the indictment, Scott and her co-defendants immediately initiated a cover-up to hide the circumstances of the beating. The plan involved striking one of the officers who participated in the beating in the back with a baton, then falsely blaming the injury on Moore. Scott allegedly photographed the injury and colluded with her codefendants and other officers to concoct a story supported by false logbook entries and a false “use of force” report.
According to Dutchess County District Attorney Bill Grady, local authorities became involved in the case in January 2014 when the Department of Corrections Inspector General’s Office notified him of an “egregious incident” at Downstate. Grady wrote that his office began an intensive investigation that soon stalled because of a lack of cooperating witnesses.
“It became readily apparent that some key witnesses would not cooperate unless subpoenaed and forced to testify under oath in the grand jury,” Grady wrote in a statement provided to the Kingston Times.
Grady wrote that under state law, forcing the officers to testify before a grand jury would have automatically granted them “transactional immunity” from prosecution for any crimes related to their testimony. Federal law, Grady said, does not grant the same protection to grand jury witnesses. Stymied in the investigation, Grady said that he reached out to the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to discuss prosecuting the officers under federal civil rights law.
“Our federal partners would not be limited in the same way as we were and were able to use the federal grand jury to compel testimony of key witnesses without fear of creating a transactional immunity issue,” Grady wrote. “They were also able to obtain the cooperation and guilty pleas of two participants in the beating.”
Could get 20 years
Scott and Santiago were fired by the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in 2014 following internal disciplinary hearings. Three other officers involved in the beating and cover-up faced lesser disciplinary sanctions. All three indicted officers face up to 20 years in federal prison.
Moore’s case is at least the second investigation by Grady’s office into abuse of inmates by State Corrections Officers. Last year, Grady announced that he was working with Bharara’s office on an investigation into the death of former Kingston resident Samuel Harrell at the Fishkill Correctional Facility on April 21, 2015. Harrell was allegedly beaten and hurled down a staircase by a group of officers known to inmates as “The Beat-Up Squad.”
Since announcing the investigation, county and federal prosecutors have declined to comment on the probe’s status.