Bayside officer gets 30 months in federal prison for assaulting inmates
A corrections officer who admitted to his role in beating inmates even for fictitious infractions will now become an inmate.
John Makos, 42, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Wednesday.
He was charged in 2021, with participating in a conspiracy to deprive inmates of their civil rights.
Makos and at least one other officer formed an ad hoc regime of physical punishments for actual and perceived violations of the Cumberland County prison’s rules and customs and meted out such punishments in a cruel and degrading manner.
He pleaded guilty in November.
Inmates under Makos’ supervision suffered bodily injury during some of the assaults, which were for actual and perceived violations of the prison’s rules and customs, according to information in the case. The incidents happened from at least April through December of 2019.
“Corrections officers are responsible for protecting the civil rights of the people in their custody,” U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger said. “Incarcerated persons may have broken the law, but equal treatment is one of our country’s founding principles, and civil rights do not cease to exist at a prison’s gates.
“This defendant allowed incarcerated persons under his care to be brutalized and abused his authority as a law enforcement officer,” he added. Today’s sentence is another reminder that civil rights violations by law enforcement officials will not be tolerated.”
In one instance, an inmate at the Cumberland County prison was made to pull down his pants and was beaten on his bare buttocks with a ruler, according to the complaint.
The beating was so hard that the ruler broke, leaving a mark on the man. He later was allegedly made to show his injuries to other inmates.
Witnesses also told investigators that they saw a shoe mark on one of the victims at least once, and believed his ribs were broken.
“This jail official was complicit in a series of violent assaults on inmates, turning a blind eye as the assaults were carried out as punishment for alleged violations of prison rules,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentencing demonstrates that correctional officers who abuse their authority and violate the civil rights of inmates under their custody and control will be held accountable for their actions. The Justice Department is committed to protecting the civil rights of all people, including those held inside our jails and prisons.”
The assaults happened in areas of the prison’s kitchen out of sight of institutional surveillance cameras.
Makos watched Dec. 7, 2019, as multiple inmates pinned a man to the floor, and punched him approximately 25 times.
Makos did not step in nor did he report the assault.
“Law enforcement officers may enforce the law, but no one is above the law,” FBI Special Agent in Charge James Dennehy said. “Makos failed to respect and protect the basic human dignity of the inmates in his care. Let today’s sentencing be a warning to others like Makos: The FBI protects the rights of all citizens, and your badge will not shield you from justice.”
Makos will be subject to three years’ supervised release and was fined $10,000.