The defendant committed 'elaborate acts of perjury,' the government says.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- If a federal judge agrees with the government, Michael Budd could get 14 years in prison for crimes of violence against Mahoning County jail inmates -- six years more than the current calculation.
"Budd's failure to accept even a modicum of responsibility for his repeated abusive actions, continuing obstructive conduct and trial perjury evidence an ongoing disdain for the rule of law," the government said. "His actions as the second in command of the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department created a lawless atmosphere that resulted not only in the violation of the constitutional rights of numerous inmates entrusted to his care but in the corruption of subordinate law enforcement officers whose lives also have now been irrevocably harmed."
Budd, who once held the rank of major, will be sentenced Friday afternoon in Cleveland federal court. The sentencing had been scheduled for next Monday but Steven M. Dettelbach, an assistant U.S. attorney, will not be available that day.
In March, a jury found Budd guilty of obstructing justice, one prong of the two-prong first count in his four-count indictment. Jurors offered no verdict on the second prong of the count that alleged conspiracy to deprive inmate Tawhon Easterly of his right to be free from excessive force. The jury deadlocked on the remaining three counts of civil rights violations. Budd was found guilty of those counts at a second trial in April.
Budd was convicted of covering up his part when Easterly was beaten for a second time and for personally beating two other inmates. The crimes occurred in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Dettelbach, in a sentencing memorandum, noted that the probation department has calculated a sentence of 78 to 97 months.
The prosecutor is asking U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells to give Budd more time and sentence him in the 135- to 168-month range.
Dettelbach said Budd's conduct, including "multiple and elaborate acts of perjury," warrant more prison time. The prosecutor said Budd carefully tailored and honed his testimony in an effort to spin a believable yarn for not one, but two juries.
Budd was not just any police officer but second in command at the sheriff's department and, as head of the Internal Affairs Division, the person entrusted to investigate allegations of deputies' misconduct, the prosecutor said. The case included two supervisors and five corrections deputies, all of whom pleaded guilty to their part in the Easterly beating.
Budd's ability to tamper with witnesses and documents would not have been possible except for his access to sensitive investigative information and materials and the power he alone possessed to summon people and compel statements as part of the internal affairs process, Dettelbach said.
Dettelbach said Budd's actions have risked eroding confidence in the proper functioning of the jail by its employees, sister law enforcement agencies and the public at large.
"In effect, [Budd] strived to create a 'Constitution-free zone' inside the Mahoning County jail," Dettelbach said in court papers.