Sheriff's employee strikes deal, pleads guilty in beating case

CLEVELAND -- Just days before he was to stand trial, another member of the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department has pleaded guilty in the beating of a county jail inmate.
John Rivera struck a deal with federal prosecutors to reduce his possible sentence to 18-24 months, down from the one to five-year sentence he could have gotten if found guilty by a jury, said Cleveland attorney Thomas M. Hanculak, who represents Rivera. He admitted he violated the civil rights of inmate Tahwan Easterly by beating him. A co-defendant, deputy Raymond Hull, pleaded guilty a day earlier.
Two other deputies indicted in the case are set for trial Monday in Cleveland. Mark Dixon and Ryan Strange face charges of conspiracy and depriving an inmate of his civil rights. Rivera's agreement requires him to testify against Dixon and Strange if prosecutors call him.
Three others who have pleaded guilty in the beating testified against Michael Budd, a former major in the department, during his trial last week. Former jail supervisors William DeLuca and Ronald Denson, along with former deputy Ronald Kaschak, said Budd ordered the beating and demanded a false report on the incident.
Rivera, a Youngstown resident, has worked at the sheriff's department for eight years. He is married and has four daughters.

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