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Former Cuyahoga County Jail warden indicted, accused of ordering officer to shut off body camera

Two other jail employees indicted as well
Posted: 2:08 PM, Apr 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-19 11:58:41-04
Eric Ivey.jpg
Wilson and Jozwiak.jpg

CLEVELAND — Eric Ivey, the former warden of the Cuyahoga County Jail who was demoted to associate warden earlier this year, was indicted on tampering with evidence and falsification charges, according to county court records.

The tampering with evidence charge is a third-degree felony and the falsification charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.

According to the indictment, Ivey allegedly ordered a corrections officer to shut off his body camera during an "emergency incident" that involved the death of an inmate. He also allegedly lied to investigators about the incident when he was interviewed this week.

In addition, two corrections officers were also indicted for their roles in February 2018 incident in which an inmate's teeth were knocked out.

Corrections Officer John Wilson has been charged with felonious assault, interfering with civil rights and unlawful restraint. Authorities said Wilson "allegedly struck an inmate repeatedly in his head, knocking out his teeth and causing another tooth to be forcefully lodged into the inmate’s nasal cavity, resulting in surgery and facial reconstruction."

Jason Jozwiak has also been charged with falsification and interfering with civil rights, according to the Ohio Attorney General's Office. Authorities said that Wilson "allegedly refused to permit a nurse to care for the inmate while the inmate sat in a restraint chair with a broken nose and broken teeth."

According to a county spokesperson, Ivey, Wilson and Jozwiak have been placed on paid administrative leave.

"It's our position that prisoners in the jail need to be treated with respect, and with dignity" said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish Thursday afternoon. "They should not and cannot be abused and if somebody was doing that, then that's not acceptable."

The mother of the inmate who was allegedly attacked by Wilson, who didn't want to be identified, told News 5 the indicted jail employees should lose their jobs.

"The injustice that was done to my son was cruel, unlawful," she said.

"My son just about suffocated on the blood that was swallowed in his throat. How they blindfolded him and tied him to the chair, and made him sit there for an extensive time, before they released him and took him to the hospital," the inmates mother said.

"Yes, I do feel that they should lose their jobs, so that they will not do that to anyone else. Because no other inmate deserves that," she said.

Thursday's indictments follow on the heels of five jail officers being indicted in early April.

Those five employees were indicted on various charges, including one corrections officer who was indicted on charges related to the death of an inmate last August, and two officers who allegedly beat an inmate in a restraint chair and left him alone for two hours with a concussion.

RELATED: 5 Cuyahoga County Jail officers indicted; one for inmate death, others for beating restrained inmates

The latest round of indictments came as Budish was delivering his State of the County address to hundreds gathered downtown. During the speech he talked about conditions inside the troubled jail.

"We have made progress and we are working every day to make further improvements," Budish told the crowd. He said those improvements include the hiring of additional officers, improved medical care through a new contract with MetroHealth, and a plan to create a diversion center aimed at keeping people with mental health and addiction issues out of jail. Budish also revived talk of regionalization, which was put on hold after a November report on the jail criticized the facility for being way over capacity.

"Eventually, once we get this straightened out ourselves, we'll be able to offer those services around the county to various cities," said Budish. "No city wants to operate their own jail.

Ivey, 53, previously served as the Cuyahoga County Jail warden but was demoted in February for violating the jail’s nepotism policy. The demotion is the result of an investigation showing Ivey violated the nepotism policy when there were issues of supervisory conflict between him and his wife, Corporal Kathy Ivey.

The Agency of the Inspector General started an investigation regarding possible ethics violations by Warden Ivey after he was promoted to that position in 2017. Ivey had supervisory authority of his wife for about two months during 2018 and signed employee evaluations for his wife’s supervisor within his chain of command.

The November 2018 U.S. Marshal’s report regarding issues at the jail also mentioned Ivey’s performance as warden.

The report alleged Ivey violated inmate's constitutional rights by issuing discipline without a hearing, and imposing meal restrictions on inmates as punishment.

Since that report was released, News 5 has covered the county jail extensively and exposed even more issues with staff and inmates, from multiple suicides to problems with how the staff handled inmates with disabilities.

In March, News 5 reporting showed Ivery was $20,000 behind in property taxes.

According to county records, Ivey's vacant and unsecured East Side Cleveland home has been accruing the huge bill for several years, which includes delinquent water, sewer and lawn cutting fees.

News 5 Investigators also uncovered inflated claims on the resume Ivey submitted when he was hired to oversee the jail.

On the resume submitted in February, 2017, and obtained through an open records request, Ivey boasts he "spearheaded the preparation and readiness for the Ohio State Jail Inspection in 2015 and 2016, first time center received full compliance." Ivey lists the accomplishment twice on the three-page resume.

But a check of state inspection records shows it isn't true. The 2015 inspection found the jail wasn't compliant 13 standards. In 2016, inspectors cited Cuyahoga County's lock-up for violating two "important" standards. A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction confirmed the findings.

Ivey has an arraignment scheduled on May 2 at 8:30 a.m. at the Justice Center.

RELATED: Cuyahoga County Jail warden demoted for violating nepotism policy

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