LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Division, announced today that defendant Alton Leon Bennett, formerly a correctional officer employed by the State of Florida at the Everglades Correctional Institution, was arrested on federal civil rights charges today. Bennett made his initial appearance in federal court today in Miami, Florida, before Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley. Bond was set at $100,000.
Bennett is charged with violating the constitutional rights of two inmates to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, which includes the right to be free from harm while in official custody. According to the Indictment, Bennett, in his official capacity and while acting under color of the laws of the State of Florida, acted with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm by failing to prevent assaults upon inmates, resulting in the infliction of bodily harm to them. The Indictment also charges Bennett with making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who were investigating the alleged criminal civil rights violations.
Counts 1 and 2 (civil rights charges) each carry a statutory maximum penalty of up to ten (10) years’ imprisonment. Count 3 (false statements) carries a statutory maximum penalty of up to five (5) years’ imprisonment. Bennett also faces fines of up to $250,000 if convicted.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “When those who are sworn to uphold the law instead choose to break it, public confidence in our system of justice is shaken. Today’s indictment is a reflection of our unwavering commitment to bring to justice all who would abuse their official power.”
Jonathan Solomon, FBI Special Agent in Charge, added, “As a correctional officer, Alvin Bennet had a duty to protect individuals in his custody from harm. He failed in his responsibility to guard these inmates and jeopardized their safety. Protecting individuals’ civil rights is a top priority of the FBI and we will continue to vigorously investigate any such violations.”
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and those of the State of Florida Department of Corrections’ Office of the Inspector General, which provided valuable assistance to the federal law enforcement agents, for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William White and United States Department of Justice trial attorney Robert B. Kurzweil, assigned to the Civil Rights Division (Criminal Section) of the Department.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.