Ex-correctional officer pleads guilty to assaulting inmate, obstructing investigation

A former correctional officer faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting an inmate and then misleading investigators assigned to review his use of excessive force.

Benjamin Montgomery, 47, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for the civil rights violation and 20 years for the obstruction of justice charge. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Montgomery physically attacked an inmate at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta last June, then accused the prisoner of initiating the conflict.

The Jonesboro man admitted he lied in his written memorandum, which claimed the inmate was the aggressor.

"Under no circumstances can we allow an officer to abuse his power to commit violent assaults on an inmate, nor can we stand by and allow that officer to obstruct our investigations," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

Montgomery's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 24, 2011. Besides the prison time, each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.