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Dark Victory

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DARK VICTORY: Guard convicted of beating 4 Md.

inmates By The Associated Press � July 21, 2009 Print this pageE-mail this articleShareDel.icio.usFacebookDiggRedditNewsvineTwitterCUMBERLAND � A jury convicted a former state correctional officer Tuesday of assaulting four inmates at the maximum-security North Branch Correctional Institution, giving the state its first trial victory in a series of cases alleging brutality at two western Maryland prisons.Tony V.

Nery, 42, of Chambersburg, Pa., faces up to 80 years in prison for his conviction on four counts of second-degree assault and four counts of conspiring with five other guards to beat the inmates.

Nery remains free until sentencing, which hasn�t been scheduled.The jury of seven men and five women deliberated nearly 90 minutes on the fifth day of the trial in Allegany County Circuit Court, said Catherine Maynard, chief deputy clerk.The victims were among six inmates who had been moved to the prison in Cresaptown after allegedly fighting with guards at the medium-security Roxbury Correctional Institution near Hagerstown on March 6, 2008.One victim, Brian Pugh, testified he was beaten and left naked in a cell without a mattress and toiletries shortly after he arrived at North Branch.

Pugh said guards then gave him toilet paper and told him to clean up the blood on the walls and floor.Inmate Kyle Bell testified that he received a mattress in return for lying to an investigator about the beating he received at North Branch.�They told me to say I was treated with the utmost respect,� Bell said.Pugh even wrote a letter to Gov.

Martin O�Malley on March 8, 2008, stating he didn�t receive any facial injuries while at North Branch, according to a copy produced by the defense.Nery, a correctional officer for more than five years, denied any role or knowledge of the assaults when he testified Monday.

He said he stood outside the cell while Pugh was strip-searched by five officers and couldn�t see through the steel door�s window �because I�m short,� the Cumberland Times-News reported Tuesday.Defense attorney D.

Benson Thompson III sought to persuade jurors that the inmates were hurt before they got to North Branch.

He portrayed them as members of the prison gang Dead Men Inc.

Prison officials also have said the inmates belonged to the gang.Nery was acquitted on charges related to two other inmates, John Schlick and Michael Crawson, after Judge Gary Leasure ruled Monday that prosecutors had failed to prove the offenses.Nery was the first of six fired North Branch officers to stand trial for alleged brutality.Nine Roxbury guards were charged with assaulting an inmate in a separate incident.

Two have pleaded guilty, one had charges dropped and one�s trial ended in a hung jury.
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