Conviction of ex-CIM guard reinstated

LOS ANGELES – A former Chino prison guard convicted of abusing inmates was sentenced Monday to more than four years in federal prison.

Robert McGowan of Bloomington was convicted by a federal jury three years ago in connection with a May 9, 2002, incident in which, prosecutors said, he and two other correctional officer hurled shackled inmates to the ground and conspired to cover it up.

In November 2007, a federal judge overturned guilty verdicts for the three officers from the California Institution for Men, but McGowan’s conviction – for two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law – was reinstated on appeal.

U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II sentenced McGowan, 41, to 51 months in prison Monday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

The allegations of abuse came after the inmates reportedly assaulted an officer, first throwing a jacket over his head and then beating him.

McGowan shackled two prisoners and took them in a van to the prison’s administrative segregation unit. Once they arrived, prosecutors said, the officer threw the shackled inmates from the van.

Because their hands were bound, the inmates were unable to break their falls and suffered minor injuries, prosecutors said.

One of McGowan’s colleagues threw another shackled inmate to the ground, prosecutors said, and lied about the incident to a federal grand jury.

The third officer indicted in the case was accused of lying about the incident in a memo to prison officials.

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