By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three former New York state jail guards were arrested on Wednesday on federal charges that they participated in the 2013 beating of an inmate who suffered life-threatening injuries and had a clump of dreadlocks ripped from his head as a "trophy."
Kathy Scott, George Santiago and Carson Morris, who were all correction officers at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill, New York, were charged in an indictment filed in federal court in White Plains.
Two other officers have pleaded guilty in connection with the beating of Kevin Moore, who was hospitalized for 17 days as a result of the assault, prosecutors said.
The charges are to be announced at a press conference by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office has pursued several cases over the use of force against inmates at jails in the state, such as New York City's Rikers Island complex.
"Being behind bars does not mean being beyond the constitution," Bharara said at an event last October.
The indictment charges Scott, Santiago and Morris with four counts including conspiracy to deprive civil rights and conspiracy to falsify records. Their lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors said the Nov. 12, 2013, beating came after Moore, who was to be housed in the jail temporarily for one night, questioned why he needed to be confined in a unit designed for inmates with mental health issues.
The indictment said Santiago, Morris and others beat Moore with fists, boots and batons, while Scott, a sergeant and supervising officer, watched without doing anything to stop them.
Moore sustained five fractured ribs, a collapsed lung and facial fractures, as well as severe back, hand, leg and foot contusions, the indictment said.
A clump of dreadlocks was ripped from his head, which one officer took as a "trophy," according to court papers.
After the beating, the indictment said, the officers tried to cover it up and justify the excessive force, with Santiago, Morris and others agreeing to pretend the inmate had attacked an officer.
To stage the story, Santiago struck an officer on the scene in the back with a baton to cause injury marks, which Scott then photographed to try to document the cover story, the indictment said. The officers also agreed to write a false report, it said.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)