Former Angola officer charged in inmate beating

The Louisiana State Pennitentiary at Angola. Show caption
The Louisiana State Pennitentiary at Angola.

U.S. Attorney: Mark Sharp lied to FBI

A former corrections officer at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola was charged Monday in federal court in the 2010 beating of an inmate while the inmate was handcuffed in a prison van, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Mark Sharp, 33, is charged in a bill of information with deprivation of civil rights and making false statements after lying to the FBI during its investigation into the Jan. 24, 2010, beating, said U.S. Attorney Walt Green.

A call to Sharp’s attorney, Public Defender Mark Upton, was not returned Monday afternoon.

Two other former guards — Kevin L. Groom Sr. and Jason Giroir — have already pleaded guilty for their roles in trying to cover up the beating of Roy McLaughlin and are awaiting sentencing.

The investigation into the incident — in which McLaughlin was beaten with a baton while his hands were handcuffed behind his back — is ongoing, Green said.

“We’re confident in all aspects of this case, in regards to all three defendants,” Green said.

An official at the Angola warden’s office, who would not identify herself, said Monday that they had no comment.

The beating occurred in the back of a prison van en route to a medical center. McLaughlin, identified in court documents only as R.M., was beaten with an extendable metal baton known as an ASP Baton.

Giroir, a former lieutenant colonel at Angola, was driving the van carrying McLaughlin, and Groom, a former major at Angola, was in the van when Sharp allegedly attacked McLaughlin, court records indicate.

The beating is alleged to have occurred after McLaughlin attempted to escape from prison.

McLaughlin, 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.

He had twice tried to escape from Angola before his unsuccessful effort in January 2010, when he used a “key” made from a battery to unlock restraints on his hands after he was allowed into a special exercise yard at Angola’s Camp J, the prison’s disciplinary unit.

McLaughlin, of Baton Rouge, used the restraints to pull aside the razor wire on one fence and used his prison jumpsuit and the restraints to climb over a second perimeter fence.

McLaughlin ran toward the employee residential area at Angola, but was captured about 15 minutes later by the prison chase team before he reached it.

Groom and Giroir both wrote in reports to the FBI that they did not see anyone attack McLaughlin in the van. In late 2011, all three men — Groom, Giroir and Sharp — told FBI investigators in interviews that they did not see anyone attack McLaughlin.

Groom pleaded guilty on Dec. 13, 2012, to making a false report and making false statements. He faces up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000 or both. He also faces up to five years’ probation.

Giroir pleaded guilty on May 29, 2013, to concealing and falsifying a federal document and making false statements. He faces up to 25 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000 or both. He also faces up to six years’ probation.

Sharp’s case has been assigned to Judge James J. Brady, in federal court in Baton Rouge.

Sharp, a former captain, is currently incarcerated after being sentenced on April 5, 2013, to three years in prison by a state district judge in St. Francisville following a conviction of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

He was arrested in January 2011 after an investigation began when a 15-year-old girl who lived in the Angola employee housing area had given birth.

He is still in prison, Green said, though the prosecutor said he does not know where Sharp is incarcerated.

Follow Ryan Broussard on Twitter, @ryanmbroussard.