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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary


Press Release
May 8, 2007
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
(850) 488-0420

Eight Former Corrections Officers Charged
23 Counts Range from Battery and Grand Theft to Failure to Report Abuse

Eight former Florida Department of Corrections employees have been charged with 23 counts stemming from alleged inmate abuse at Hendry Correctional Institution.  Charges range from battery and grand theft, to failure to report inmate abuse.

“These former employees were involved in a series of dehumanizing and degrading behaviors,” said Secretary James McDonough.  “It appears this criminal behavior was part of a planned conspiracy to violate civil rights and we have informed the FBI and the US Attorney.”

Investigation into the alleged abuse of inmate Charles Gundlah revealed patterns of misconduct among a distinct group of corrections officers.  Aggressive pursuit of those indicators by the Department resulted in the uncovering of additional unsavory incidents.

The Florida Department of Corrections would like to thank State Attorney Steve Russell and Assistant State Attorney Dan Cavanaugh for pursuing these charges.  The Department is cooperating fully. 

“These arrests, coupled with recent prison sentences handed down to former Secretary Crosby and former Regional Director Clark, send a clear message to our employees,” said Secretary McDonough.  “It does not matter how high up you are in the Department, how remote you are or how many of you there are, you have to abide by the rule of law.” 

Former employees charged today and their related charges are: 

  • Phillip Barger – 2 counts battery, 2 counts failure to report
  • James Brown – 1 count grand theft
  • Gabriel Cotilla – 1 count battery, 1 count failure to report
  • Kevin Filipowicz – 1 count battery, 1 count failure to report
  • Randy Hazen – 2 counts battery, 2 counts failure to report
  • Ruben Ibarra – 1 count battery, 1 count failure to report
  • William Thiessen – 3 counts battery, 3 counts failure to report
  • Stephen Whitney – 1 count battery, 1 count failure to report

For further information, please contact the Communications Office at 850/488-0420.