Devens federal prison medical center guards acquitted in prisoner abuse case

Two correctional officers at Devens Federal Prison Medical Center in Ayer were acquitted Thursday in federal court in Boston on three counts related to the 2019 wounding of a handcuffed inmate, but the jury is deadlocked on a fourth count, court records show. .

Seth M. Bourget, 41, of Woodstock, Connecticut, a senior corrections officer, was found not guilty of disenfranchisement under law or governmental authority, after he allegedly dropped his knee on the head of a handcuffed inmate, according to court records. .

The jury could not rule on a second charge of disenfranchisement under the guise of law for allegedly hitting the prisoner with a protective shield, according to court documents.

Lt. Joseph M. Lavorato, 53, of Wilmington, was acquitted of one charge of obstructing official process and one charge of destroying, altering or falsifying documents in a federal investigation, according to the documents filed in court.

Brad Bailey, attorney for Lavorato, said his client no longer worked at Devens after 27 years with the Bureau of Prisons. Lavorato “is grateful for the hard work and the jury’s decision today,” Bailey said in a statement.

“He is thrilled to know that his name and stellar reputation have been restored,” he said. “He and his family are looking forward to a bright and happy future after what has been a long and difficult two year ordeal.”

Michael Sheridan, Bourget’s lawyer, also thanked the jury “for their very important public service”.

“Mr. Bourget, a conscientious and dedicated corrections officer with over 10 years of experience, proclaimed his innocence from the start and the verdict was vindicated after nearly three years of waiting for his appearance in court” , Sheridan said in a statement.

Representatives from the US Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said she respects the jury’s verdict, but believes “the allegations warrant the government’s investigation and charges.”

“Wearing a badge comes with tremendous responsibility and obligations to not only enforce and obey the law, but also to respect the civil rights of those in your custody and care,” Rollins said. in a press release. “This includes people in prison facilities, many of whom struggle with significant mental health issues, like the victim in this case.”

Rollins said his office “will continue to vigorously investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute allegations of civil rights abuses. This must also be the case when the allegations are against Bureau of Prisons employees, who themselves do part of the Department of Justice system.

Prosecutors had alleged that in June 2019, Bourget dropped his knee on an inmate’s head and struck the prisoner with a protective shield with excessive force while handcuffed on the floor of a cell locked in the mental health accommodation unit, according to the indictment in the case.

Lavorato then allegedly failed to report the man’s injuries, concealed a video recording of the incident and filed a report saying the security camera was not working because its battery was dead, prosecutors said.

Jeremy C. Fox can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.