Criminal Destruction of Records Followed by Deception Leads to Guilty Plea

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Several  recent articles discuss when the destruction of records becomes a criminal offense.  U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland | Maryland Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice and Destruction of Records Related to Cover-Up of Excessive Force Incident | United States Department of Justice (Feb. 22, 2024); Rachel Konieczny, MD correctional officer pleads guilty to destroying recording of inmate assault (thedailyrecord.com) (Feb. 23, 2024); Lexi Harpster, Maryland correctional officer pleads guilty to cover-up of excessive force incident (msn.com).

The U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that:

According to his guilty plea, on July 12, 2021, while working at ECI, Quillen learned that another officer had used force against an inmate.  Upon learning of the incident, Quillen responded to the scene with a video camera and began recording the inmate.  While Quillen filmed him, the inmate asserted that he had been assaulted by a correctional officer—Officer Samuel Warren—for no reason.  The inmate also cried, and was visibly injured, with blood on his face.

After Quillen stopped filming, he and other officers watched the video Quillen had filmed.  While watching the video, a supervisory officer commented that the video did not look good for Warren and indicated that the video should be deleted.  Warren agreed, and Quillen and other officers agreed to lie about the deletion.  Understanding that the video contained evidence that Warren’s use of force against the inmate had been unlawful, Quillen deleted the video.

Following the deletion, Quillen lied about what happened to the video, including to supervisors at ECI, and to state and federal investigators.

Warren has since admitted that he unlawfully assaulted the inmate and has pleaded guilty to federal offenses related to that assault.

Quillen faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy to obstruct justice and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for destruction of records.   U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for May 22, 2024. [emphasis added].

Ms. Konieczny reports:

“I started the Civil Rights and Special Victims Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office specifically to handle these types of cases,” U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron said in an email. “We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who infringe on the civil rights of others.”

The news reports do not explain how the spoliation was discovered.

 

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