[WATCH] Four Deputies Arrested for Letting Inmate Throw Feces in Santa Rita Jail

DUBLIN — The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office arrested four of its own deputies Thursday on charges of mistreating inmates at Santa Rail Jail, which included allowing the throwing of feces by inmates, the office announced.

The allegations stem from January and include claims that four sworn deputies facilitated and allowed an inmate to throw bodily fluids, including feces and urine, onto other inmates housed in a maximum security unit of the jail, according to a statement by the sheriff’s office.

One deputy resigned and three others have been placed on administrative leave after Sheriff Gregory Ahern launched an investigation in January, later finding the allegations to be criminal. The investigation focused on incidents at Santa Rita between the summer and fall 2016. Three of the deputies were placed on administrative leave in May and June, but all four weren’t arrested until Thursday afternoon, according to the sheriff’s office.

The four arrested were Sarah Krause, 26, Justin Linn, 23, of Tracy, Erik McDermott, 27, of Concord, and Stephen Sarcos, who resigned. All four were with the department for less than three years each and bailed out Thursday afternoon.

More than 40 people were interviewed during the investigation, including sheriff’s office employees, inmates, and inmates from state prisons.

Linn and McDermott were arrested on suspicion of intimidation of a witness and assault under the color of authority. Krause and Sarcos were arrested for assault under the color of authority for a single incident in fall 2016, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Though I am horrified and appalled by the actions of the deputies that were arrested today, I commend Sheriff Ahern for taking immediate action and arresting individuals from his own department,” said Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods. “Misconduct like this should never be tolerated. Our office will cooperate in any way necessary to ensure that these deputies are held accountable and that this abuse does not continue to happen.”

The mistreatment allegedly occurred in an area where inmates are placed in administrative segregation. Reasons for placing them there include assaults on staff or other inmates, behavioral health problems, or high-profile cases. Currently, Ghost Ship defendants Derick Almena and Max Harris are jailed in this area of Santa Rita.

As a standard, the jail must allow segregated inmates at least one hour outside their cell a day, so many spent most of their days locked up.

In a jail letter sent earlier this month to this news organization, an inmate who identified himself as Ruben Febo Jr. describes frequent abuse that was not a secret among deputies or inmates.

Febo, 30, was arrested in Hayward in 2014 on suspicion of attempted murder and other charges, according to court records. He is housed in the same area where the mistreatment took place, arriving there in September 2016, according to jail records and the letter.

“I was placed into a cell that was saturated in feces from the floor to the ceiling and all over the bunk beds,” Febo wrote. “I was made to go into this cell involuntarily.”

He said deputies were targeting inmates with mental health issues “because they either had no family to tell” or they “lacked the capacity to speak up for themselves.” According to the letter, he contacted the ACLU and NAACP.

“I (bore) witness to an inhuman living environment, illegal criminal procedures/practice at the hands of many housing deputies and an inmate in which the deputies utilized to help carry out torture/torment tactics upon these inmates in these pods,” he wrote.

In a statement, Ahern said he is “deeply disturbed and saddened.” He said he is very proud of the employees who came forward to discuss the behavior and commended the inmates in custody for the assistance in the investigation.

“Although these allegations are egregious and shocking, the actions of these four individuals do not reflect the dedication and professionalism of the 1,600 employees who work at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office,” he said.

Source: http://www.eastbaytimes.com