Even More Criminal Charges at NJ Women’s Prison: Four Guards, Administrator
Four more corrections officers and the highest-ranking administrator so far have been charged in connection with an assault on inmates at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in January.
The Edna Mahan facility has had chronic issues with sexual and physical abuse of inmates, which culminated in a violent forced cell extraction in January in which some inmates were seriously injured by using excessive and unreasonable force.
A total of 14 correctional officers have now been criminally charged along with Associate Administrator Sean St. Paul, 55, of Newark. As the highest-ranking Department of Corrections official on duty the night of the assault he is also the highest-ranking person charged.
Sean St. Paul and Major Ryan Valentin, 44, of Bloomfield
St. Paul and Valentin, 44, allegedly approved, ordered and witnessed the extraction, according to acting Attorney General Andrew Buck. He also is accused of not following Department of Correction policy to make proper notifications about the assault and sending an email to his superiors with incorrect information about what happened. They are both charged with official misconduct, conspiracy and tampering with public records or information.
Major is the highest rank a corrections officer can reach while still working at a New Jersey prison.
Senior Correctional police officer Desiree Lewis, 33, of Elizabeth
Lewis allegedly used OC (pepper) spray on an inmate identified as "Victim 2," and helped another officer punch "Victim 2" 28 times in the head and neck area leading to a concussion, according to Buck. Lewis also wrote an report with false information that did not include the use of OC spray.
She is charged with aggravated assault, tampering with public records or information.
Senior Correctional Police Officer Brandon Burgos, 22, of Roseland and Senior Correctional Police Officer Marika Sprow, 32, of West Orange
Burgos and Sprow are both accused of purposely using excessive and unreasonable force on Victim 2. Both their reports were also incomplete by not including the use of OC spray and giving false information about the extraction.
They are both charged with tampering with public records or information.
“We promised to follow the facts wherever they go, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said acting Attorney General Bruck. “We are holding accountable everyone who was involved in January’s brutal assaults, from the line officers working the cell block to the highest-ranking prison official on duty that night. With today’s charges, we are making clear that even the senior-most leadership at Edna Mahan must be held responsible for their illegal conduct.”
Gov. Phil Murphy announced in June the facility is closing.