A corrections officer at Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, New Jersey, was arrested Friday for allegedly assaulting and physically punishing inmates.
U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said John R. Makos III, 41, of the Cumberland County municipality Maurice River Township, was charged by complaint with participating in a conspiracy to deprive inmates of civil rights.
Makos had a reported pay of $85,105.91 in 2020, according to public records that said he was employed as a Senior Correctional Police Officer. Makos was suspended from his job and appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III.
“Prisoners are entitled to be treated with basic dignity, not pummeled and humiliated at the whim of correctional officers,” said Honig. “We once again affirm our commitment to uphold the civil rights of all persons, including those living in a correctional setting.”
“Our investigation alleges that the actions in this case included beatings of people without provocation or justification in violation of their civil rights,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. “A badge is not a license to abuse the power it conveys or to deny the civil rights of the people in one’s custody. It matters not whether the wearer belongs to a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, or a correctional facility, we all bear the same responsibility to respect and defend the rights of those in our care. Let me be clear, the FBI protects and upholds the rights of all of our citizens. We will go wherever we are needed to weed out illegal activity and arrest the perpetrators.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from at least April 2019 through December 2019, while working as a corrections officer, Makos conspired with others at Bayside State Prison to assault and punish certain inmates in a cruel and arbitrary manner by using excessive force that caused physical injury and pain to the victims.
Makos and at least one other corrections officer established an ad hoc regime of physical punishments for actual and perceived violations of the prison’s rules and customs and meted out such punishments in a cruel and degrading manner, at times with the assistance of other inmates.
Makos and at least one other corrections officer assaulted a victim inmate using what was known to inmates as “the fence treatment:” one of the victim’s arms would be handcuffed to a fence in the back area of the prison’s kitchen and the other arm would be handcuffed to a swinging door, so that the inmate would appear to be crucified.
Another inmate, working with Makos and at least one other corrections officer, moved the swinging door so that the victim inmate’s body expanded and collapsed while two or more corrections officer delivered closed fist strikes to the victim’s body.
Makos and at least one other corrections officer also attempted to ensure that their victims would not report the abuse to prison authorities by leading the inmates to believe that if they reported the abuse, they would lose their kitchen jobs, the income associated with those jobs, and the attendant access to better and more plentiful food items, all of which were highly valued within the prison.
The conspiracy to violate civil rights charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Honig credited special agents of the FBI Atlantic City Resident Agency, with the investigation.
The federal government recently entered into an agreement with the administration of Governor Phil Murphy to stop rape and other abuses that had been occurring in the New Jersey Department of Corrections facility for women.
A caseworker employed by the New Jersey Department of Children and Family Services, Division of Child Protection and Permanency, was charged on Wednesday with possessing images of child sexual abuse.
Murphy, who is running for a second term in the November election, did not comment on Trent Collier of Kearny, the 55-year-old caseworker charged with possession of child pornography, or Makos, the corrections officer who allegedly tortured prisoners.
The corrections officer who allegedly tortured prisoners has a brother, Brian J. Makos, who is reportedly was employed last year as a $97,142 Correctional Police Sergeant at the same prison, and his wife, Nicole R. Makos was an $85,105 Senior Correctional Police Officer for the State of New Jersey. Another brother, William M. Tozer, reportedly worked as a Senior Correction Officer in 2011. The accused man’s brother-in-law, Newell B. Pettit is also a Senior Correctional Police Officer, who in 2020 had a reported pay of $85,105.91.