Lock him up! With video evidence against them, why are so many of these officials allowed to plead to misdemeanors?! Nail them with felony charges.
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Cuyahoga County corrections officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges that accuse him of failing to attend to an inmate who died of a drug overdose in 2018 and falsifying records after the inmate’s death.
Martin Devring, 61, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of dereliction of duty and tampering with records in the death of Joseph Arquillo. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office dropped a misdemeanor charge of interfering with civil rights.
As part of his plea agreement, Devring agreed not to try to get his job back or seek back pay. The county fired him three months after Arquillo’s death.
Prosecutors and Devring’s defense attorneys filed sentencing memorandums on Tuesday night in anticipation that Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams would sentence Devring immediately following his plea. Collier-Williams said during Wednesday’s hearing, conducted via Zoom, that she would hold an in-person sentencing hearing “due to the seriousness of this case” and set that hearing for March 15.
Devring faces up to nine months in jail but is eligible for probation.
Devring is the second former jail employee to plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from Arquillo’s death. Former warden Eric Ivey was sentenced to probation in October 2019 after he pleaded guilty to obstructing the investigation into Arquillo’s death Ivey ordered investigators to turn off their body cameras in the moments after Arquillo’s death so as not to create evidence that could assist a civil lawsuit.
Assistant Ohio Attorney Generals Linda Powers and Daniel Kasaris, in a sentencing brief filed Tuesday, asked Collier-Williams to send Devring to jail.
“Devring will never fully understand the impact of his crimes until he sees his own conduct through the eyes of an inmate who must depend on corrections officers like him,” the brief said.
Devring’s defense attorney Roger Synenberg asked for probation in his sentencing memorandum.
Surveillance video previously released to cleveland.com showed Devring sitting at a desk and falsifying logs, saying he had conducted rounds, and reading The Plain Dealer sports page. Arquillo, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war booked into jail on a probation violation charge, lay crumpled on the ground. More than an hour after Arquillo collapsed, Devring walked over and kicked his mat, then turned around and walked back to his desk.
Devring wrote in his logs that he completed rounds every 15 minutes during his shift and that the area was secure while Arquillo lay dying on the floor.
Devring left for his lunch break about 12:50 p.m., and within minutes the corrections officer who replaced him called for emergency help for Arquillo, who was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Arquillo died of a drug overdose and had heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and Valium in his system.
Yost’s office said the investigation into Arquillo’s death uncovered that some jail supervisors told officers to falsify logs to show they completed rounds even when they couldn’t. The brief also notes that some corrections officers refused to do so but that Devring wasn’t one of them.
“For several hours, Devring failed to do his job and repeatedly falsified records to conceal his own laziness and inattention to an obvious inmate crisis,” the brief said.
Arquillo was one of nine inmates who died in county jails from June 2018 to May 2019. The deaths sparked a U.S. Marshals Service investigation that found in November 2018 that the jail was critically understaffed and overpopulated and that corrections officers threatened, beat and deprived inmates of food, water and medical care.
That investigation has led to more than a dozen current and former jail guards, including former jail director Ken Mills who is slated to begin trial in April. Mills faces multiple charges, including dereliction of duty that accuse him of recklessly failing to oversee the jail to the point where it created the dangerous conditions that led to the string of deaths and widespread Constitutional violations.
Arquillo’s son, Joseph Arquillo Jr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Devring, Ivey, Mills, former Sheriff Clifford Pinkney, County Executive Armond Budish and other jail and county officials. That lawsuit is currently pending in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.