FBI file suggests coverup at Pa. jail

Feb. 26, 2013 at 7:41 PM   |   Comments

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Top officials at the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh were involved in covering up the beating of an inmate after an attempted escape, FBI documents reveal.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported it obtained a 1,000-page FBI file on the 2010 beating.

Gary Barbour, 31, who was beaten after he tried to escape, is suing for more than a million dollars for physical and mental damage he says he suffered. A former guard, James Donis, 50, was sentenced this month to eight months in a halfway house and five years on probation for falsifying reports. Donis had reached the rank of major and was fourth in command at the jail at the time.

The FBI file shows investigators found evidence that other high-ranking officials were involved in the coverup, including filing misleading reports, lying and retaliating against a guard who reported that Donis had assaulted Barbour.

Former Allegheny County Warden Ramon Rustin, now the warden of a jail in Albuquerque, N.M., told the FBI he did not know about the beating until agents questioned him in late 2011. But his name appears in the file, with the suggestion he had known about it for months, the Tribune-Review said.

Ron Barber, Barbour's lawyer, charged Monday that there was a "vast and deliberate coverup" at the jail. He has filed a motion asking to add the former deputy warden and head of internal affairs as defendants in his lawsuit.

"Beatings like this, and the other ones that we've referred to in the complaint in this case, happen because the people involved believe that jail administrators and Internal Affairs won't do anything about it," Barber said.

The newspaper said jail officials, Donis and his defense attorney didn't return calls seeking comment

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