SAN FRANCISCO, March 2 (UPI) -- Three former and current San Francisco sheriff's deputies face charges for allegedly running a "fight club," forcing inmates to battle each other for entertainment.
The gladiator-style fights allegedly took place in the downtown jail of the city's Hall of Justice court while deputies watched. An investigation by the San Francisco Public Corruption Task Force, created by the FBI and San Francisco Country District Attorney George Gascon, resulted in charges against two deputies and one former deputy.
"Subjecting inmates who are in the care and custody of the state to degrading and inhumane treatment makes a mockery of our justice system," said Gascon, adding that inmates fought each other believing they had no other choice.
Deputy Eugene A. Jones was charged with two counts of felony assault and misdemeanor counts of failing to perform official duties. He faces up to five years in jail.
Deputy Clifford T. Chiba was charged with cruel punishment of prisoners and failure to perform an official duty, both misdemeanors that could result in up to 18 months in jail.
Former Deputy Scott R. Neu was charged with felony assault and making criminal threats, and with cruelty to a prisoner and failing to perform an official duty, both misdemeanors. He faces more than 10 years in jail.
Other alleged abuses were mentioned, including forcing inmates to exercise, gamble for food, and clean clothing and bedding.
Authorities said in one incident in 2015, an unidentified deputy allegedly threatened inmates with mace, shocks or beatings if they did not fight each other.
"We're very glad the investigation is finally over and this is in the hands of the courts," said Ellen Hirst, chief of staff for San Francisco County Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, after Gascon's announcement.