Home Cleveland Press Releases 2010 Lucas County, Ohio Sheriff’s Sergeant Guilty on Federal Civil Rights Charges
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Lucas County, Ohio Sheriff’s Sergeant Guilty on Federal Civil Rights Charges

U.S. Department of Justice December 03, 2010
  • Office of Public Affairs (202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888

WASHINGTON—A jury found former Lucas County Sheriff’s Sergeant John E Gray guilty on charges of federal civil rights and records falsification violations relating to the in-custody death of a detainee at the Lucas County Jail, the Justice Department announced today.

Former Lucas County Deputy Jay Schmeltz was convicted on a charge of filing a false report about the incident. Lucas County Sheriff James Telb and Internal Affairs Capt. Robert McBroom were acquitted on charges related to an alleged subsequent cover-up of the role that jail personnel played in the 2004 death of Carlton Benton.

“The investigation and prosecution of this case shows that the Department of Justice does not tolerate abuse of authority by the people we entrust to enforce our laws,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division. “Today’s verdict shows the seriousness of these crimes.”

“Six years after the death of Carlton Benton, a jury has heard the evidence and finally assigned accountability both for what happened that day in 2004,” said Steven Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “We accept today’s verdicts as the outcome of a fair trial at which the defendants got their day in court—an opportunity Carlton Benton never got.”

On May 30, 2004, former Deputy Sheriff John E. Gray assaulted a detainee in a cell at the Lucas County Jail and then left the detainee lying unconscious without seeking medical help for him, according to the charges. Thereafter, according to the charges, Deputies Gray and Schmeltz wrote false reports concealing the incidents and made false statements to the FBI.

Gray faces a maximum sentence of  50 years in prison, and Schmeltz faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Cleveland Division. The case is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Kristy Parker and Trial Attorney Ryan McKinstry of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Bamberger.

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