CLEVELAND, April 14 (UPI) -- Lucas County (Ohio) Sheriff James Telb and three other jailers were indicted Tuesday in the death of a prisoner, federal officials said.
The men are accused in the 2004 death of Carlton Benton and a subsequent 4-year cover-up, a U.S. Justice Department statement said.
Federal authorities allege that on May 30, 2004, former Deputy Sheriff John Gray assaulted and strangled Benton and left him lying unconscious without seeking medical help for him.
Shortly before Benton died, the indictment said Jay Schmeltz, who was a chief deputy, also assaulted him. Both deputies are also accused of writing false reports of the incident and lying to federal agents.
The indictment also alleges Lt. Robert McBroom, who was in the jail's Internal Affairs Department and Telb concealed their knowledge of Gray's felonies from federal authorities.
"Police officers are given tremendous authority and responsibility so that they can protect and serve the public trust. Those who abuse that authority face serious consequences," said Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division.
If convicted, Gray faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, Schmeltz faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars, while McBroom and Telb will each face a maximum of three years.
Telb, 70, is serving his seventh term as sheriff, The (Toledo) Blade said.
"I didn't do anything wrong and I'm not going to walk away," Telb said at a news conference. "We're going to be vindicated in this ... . This is serious stuff. I'm not backing away from it."
Benton, 24, was facing two counts of aggravated murder when attacked.