Sacramento, California - A former California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) correctional officer was charged Thursday with criminal civil rights violations and submitting false reports, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
A federal grand jury in Sacramento returned an indictment against Arturo Pacheco, 38, of Mather, charging him with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation.
According to the indictment, Pacheco was a correctional officer at California State Prison, Sacramento. On Sept. 15, 2016, Pacheco and another former correctional officer, Ashley Marie Aurich, escorted an inmate whose hands were handcuffed behind the inmate’s back. During the escort, Pacheco bent down behind the inmate and pulled the inmate’s legs out from under him. This caused the inmate to immediately fall forward, violently striking his head and upper torso on the concrete. The inmate-victim was taken to the hospital where he died approximately two days later.
“Pacheco, abused his position of authority to harm an inmate,” said U.S. Attorney Scott. “Instead of upholding and enforcing the law, he went on to conceal his actions and asked others to assist him. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to hold accountable correctional officers who violate the public’s trust by harming inmates or by covering up wrongdoing.”
“The FBI’s Civil Rights Program dedicates significant effort to investigating police misconduct and other crimes committed by individuals exploiting their government-granted powers. When individuals working in an official capacity violate the trust of their communities by abusing that power, they undermine the hard work of all officials," said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. "The FBI is committed to strengthen trust in law enforcement by holding those who abuse their privileges and abandon their responsibilities accountable.”
Aurich was charged separately with a single count of falsification of records in a federal investigation. Pacheco and Aurich allegedly prepared false reports regarding Pacheco’s assault on the victim in which both Pacheco and Aurich failed to identify another witness to the assault and inaccurately described Pacheco’s conduct. Pacheco and Aurich prepared their respective false reports in order to impede and obstruct the ensuing federal investigation.
According to the indictment, on May 19, 2016, Pacheco used his CDCR-issued pepper spray to spray a different inmate in the face. At the time, the inmate was calm and compliant. The pepper spray caused the inmate to experience an extreme burning sensation, physical pain, and temporary blindness. Following this incident, Pacheco submitted another false report in which he falsely described his conduct and the reason why he sprayed the inmate-victim in the face with pepper spray.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Office of Internal Affairs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian A. Fogerty is prosecuting the case.
If convicted of deprivation of rights under color of law, Pacheco faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. If convicted of falsification of records in a federal investigation, Pacheco and Aurich face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine for each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.