TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Three Florida corrections officers have been fired and now face criminal charges for creating false disciplinary reports on 13 inmates held at the Wakulla Correctional Institution and beating one who had made a disparaging remark about one of the guards, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Thursday.
Maj. Joseph Garrison of Crawfordville and Capt. Megan Dillard were arrested Wednesday and processed through the Wakulla County Jail while the third, Andrew Gazapian, was out of state and ordered to turn himself in when he returns Dillard and Gazapian are from Tallahassee, about 30 miles north of the prison.
“I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior they are accused of,'' said Edwin Buss, Florida's corrections boss, who praised the prison employees who brought the matter to the attention of his agency's inspector general.
“Those officers refused to allow bad behavior,'' Buss said. “They have the courage and integrity worthy of the corrections profession.''
The inmates who were involved have been moved out of the Wakulla facility to other prisons.
Garrison, 39, was charged with one count of official misconduct; Dillard, 31, was charged with 13 counts of official misconduct, and Gazapian, 23, will be charged with one count of official misconduct, one count of fabricating physical evidence, and one count of battery, FDLE spokesman Keith Kameg said.
DOC records showed Garrison started with the agency on May 4, 1995, and worked his way up through the ranks. He was promoted to major in 2009 and earned $56,650 annually. He had no previous discipline actions in his file.
Dillard began as a clerk typist in November 1998 and was promoted to captain in December 2008. She earned $41,188.
Gazapian, who started the day after Christmas in 2008 and earned $30,807, is charged with one count of official misconduct, one count of fabricating physical evidence, and one count of battery.
Gazapian had been counseled by his supervisor in March about not following orders and Dillard received a record of counseling from her supervisor in early 2009 for negligence.
If convicted, the fired officers would also forfeit all accrued retirement benefits.
FDLE investigators said the false disciplinary reports resulted in an inmate's loss of privileges and transfer to a confinement dormitory. The inmate was beaten while the inmates were being transferred. The inmate who was battered was later sprayed three more times with a chemical agent after being confined in his cell. The events occurred after an unidentified inmate made a derogatory comment about Dillard.
FDLE, which began its investigation on March 24, said veteran state attorney Willie Meggs in Tallahassee would prosecute the case. It was not immediately known if the accused officers had attorneys.