SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — A former Utah sheriff and two officers charged in an inmate-abuse investigation at a rural jail pleaded guilty Wednesday in deals arranged with prosecutors.
Prosecutors said a former Daggett County deputy who stunned inmates with a Taser and used them for police-dog training may serve jail time himself after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and other charges.
A lawyer for ex-deputy Joshua J. Cox said the incidents that included offers of soda for inmates who endured a stun-gun shot were “fun and games” between inmates and guards who had grown too close.
“It gets boring out in Daggett County,” said attorney Loni DeLand, though he acknowledged the events should not have happened.
State Attorney General Sean Reyes has called the treatment “unbelievably inhumane.”
Cox, 27, is set to be sentenced on Nov. 6.
Jail commander Benjamin Lail, 32, was sentenced to a year of probation and a $750 fine after pleading guilty to charges saying he fired a Taser at a woman’s foot.
He was also ordered to write an apology letter to the victim.
Lail left law enforcement to sell cars in Wyoming, the Deseret News reported, quoting his lawyer, Richard Gale.
Former Sheriff Jerry R. Jorgensen, 64, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor official misconduct charge in a deal that will clear his record if he stays out of trouble for six months.
Jorgenson’s lawyer said he was not involved in the abuse, but agreed to the deal to take responsibility for the sheriff’s department misconduct that prosecutors have said happened under his leadership.
“He didn’t feel like he had committed any real crime, but he just felt horrible that during his time as sheriff this was alleged to have happened,” said the lawyer, Blake Hamilton.
Two other deputies were also charged with misdemeanor misconduct in the case involving allegations dating to 2015.
The state of Utah paid the rural jail to house prison inmates there, but removed them after the investigation — taking away $1.4 million in county revenue.
The jail is in the small town of Manila on the Wyoming border.
All three men have given up their police certifications, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
This version corrects that Jorgensen’s record will be cleared after six months, not a year.