Ex-officer at Angola admits falsifying document in inmate beating

Jason Giroir, a former lieutenant colonel at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Baton Rouge federal court to charges that he falsified a document and lied to FBI agents investigating an inmate beating.

Giroir, 35, is the second former Angola officer to plead guilty in the ongoing federal investigation of the alleged coverup of a beating suffered Jan. 24, 2010, by inmate “R.M.” at the hands of prison officers. The beating is alleged to have occurred after “R.M.” attempted to escape from prison.

Former Maj. Kevin L. Groom, 45, pleaded guilty in December to the same charges filed against Giroir.

U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. said Wednesday the investigation is ongoing. He said the charges against Giroir and Groom carry penalties of as much as 25 years in prison and fines that could total $500,000.

Roy McLaughlin, 55, serving a life sentence for the second-degree murder in 1998 of his wife, Marianne, 39, was the only “R.M.” reported as escaped from Angola on Jan. 24, 2010.

Cazayoux would not comment on McLaughlin or identify him as “R.M.”

Marianne McLaughlin disappeared in June 1998. Her husband was arrested in Brandon, Miss., a few days later. Her body was discovered 18 months later in Mississippi’s Homochitto National Forest.

Autopsy reports showed Marianne McLaughlin was either strangled or suffocated.

Roy McLaughlin had twice tried to escape from Angola before his unsuccessful effort in January 2010.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert W. Piedrahita told U.S. District Judge James J. Brady on Wednesday that Giroir saw a prison officer, identified in court documents only as “M.S.,” strike inmate “R.M.” with a baton after the inmate’s failed escape.

Piedrahita added that Giroir denied in a written report that he saw any officer strike “R.M.”

The prosecutor said Giroir repeated that lie when he later was interviewed by FBI agents.

The prosecutor added: “At no point did Giroir ever strike the inmate.”

Brady asked Giroir whether Piedrahita’s account of the incident was correct.

“Yes, sir,” Giroir replied.

“How do you plead?” asked the judge.

“Guilty,” Giroir said.

Giroir also signed a document admitting his false statements. That document was witnessed by Giroir’s attorney, C. Frank Holthaus, and the prosecutor.

The judge did not immediately schedule a sentencing hearing for Giroir.