A former Maryland correctional officer who helped cover up the severe beating of an inmate in 2008 was sentenced Tuesday to three years in a federal prison.
Former Lt. Edwin Stigile was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. He is the highest-ranking former officer among 16 convicted of crimes stemming from the systematic beating of inmate Kenneth Davis at Roxbury Correctional Institution near Hagerstown.
Stigile pleaded guilty to charges he destroyed incriminating surveillance video after other officers delivered a series of beatings meant to punish Davis for punching a guard. Davis was hospitalized with a broken nose, back and ribs.
Stigile's sentence is the stiffest given so far to any of the 14 officers convicted of federal charges. One more awaits sentencing.
Two others were convicted in state court.
On Tuesday, Stigile told U.S. District Judge James Bredar "I didn't know what I was thinking'' before apologizing for his participation in what Bredar characterized as "systemic corruption'' at the penitentiary.
The courtroom was full on Tuesday, with members of Stigile's church lining the benches. A pastor and Stigile's brother-in-law spoke on the former correctional officer's behalf.
"This one act does not define the man I know,'' said Pastor Donald Preston, who described Stigile as "a solid guy who makes good decisions.''
But Bredar harshly criticized Stigile and his role in the cover-up, saying the high-ranking former officer's decision to destroy evidence "made the beating possible.''
"It was a gross violation of his oath to serve people lawfully, and the sort of violation that allowed this cancer to grow unabated in this prison,'' Bredar said. "We expect better, we require better, and if you're a lieutenant and you crack and you destroy videotapes and you lie, the consequence is, if you get caught, you're going to federal prison.''
Stigile was ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals on Sept. 17.