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Pinckneyville correctional officers indicted for excessive force, obstruction of justice

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – On Tuesday, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment charging three correctional officers employed at Pinckneyville Correctional Center for civil rights violations and conspiring to falsify reports about the incident.

Cord A. Williams, 35, Christian L. Pyles, 25, and Mark C. Maxwell, 52, are charged in the indictment. Williams and Pyles were indicted for violation of civil rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice.

The indictment alleges that on April 24, 2022, correctional officers Williams and Pyles beat an inmate who was fully restrained with his hands cuffed behind his back and secured in leg irons. Maxwell is charged with a separate civil rights violation. That count alleges Maxwell was working as an acting lieutenant when he failed to intervene and allowed the inmate to be beaten in his presence.

As part of their official duties, correctional officers are required to write incident reports to accurately document any unusual incidents that they observe or are reported to them, including disturbances or the use of force. The conspiracy count alleges that Williams and Pyles colluded with other officers to file false reports about the incident. Williams and Pyles are separately charged with obstruction of justice for filing their false reports.

Deprivation of civil rights under color of law is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Conspiracy to obstruct justice is punishable by up to 5 years’ imprisonment. Obstruction of justice is punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Each count also carries a possible fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.

“Accusations of unlawful misconduct by correctional officers must be investigated in order to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe.

An indictment is merely a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

The Illinois State Police are leading the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft is prosecuting the case.

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