Former Prisoner Transport Officer Charged for Abusing Detainees in His Care and Threatening Them with Retaliation if They Reported His Abuse

A federal grand jury in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has indicted former prison transport officer Anthony Buntyn, 53, for abusing detainees who were in his care and for threatening the detainees with retaliation if they reported his abuse.

According to the indictment, at the time of his alleged crimes, Buntyn was a prisoner transport officer employed by Prisoner Transportation Services of America (PTS), a company that was hired by local jails and prisons throughout the country to transport people who had been arrested pursuant to out-of-state warrants and needed to be transported back to the states that had issued the warrants. Buntyn was in charge of a PTS transport in March 2017 that stopped in New Mexico during a cross-country trip.

Count One of the indictment charges Buntyn with willfully depriving a detainee of the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242. Count Two charges Buntyn with willfully depriving multiple detainees of the constitutional right not to be subjected to conditions of confinement on the transport vehicle that posed a substantial risk of serious harm to the detainees’ health or safety, and resulted in bodily injury to some of them, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242. Count Three charges Buntyn with knowingly using intimidation and threats against multiple detainees to prevent communication to a federal law enforcement officer of truthful information relating to the commission of a federal crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(b)(3).

The indictment alleges that, during the stop in New Mexico, Buntyn repeatedly used a Taser on a handcuffed detainee without legal justification. It further alleges that, while in New Mexico, Buntyn transported the detainees in the PTS van in conditions of confinement that posed a substantial risk of serious harm to their health or safety, and resulted in injury to at least four detainees. Finally, the indictment alleges that Buntyn threatened the detainees who were being transported in the PTS van with retaliation if they reported any of his alleged crimes.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If convicted, Buntyn faces a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment on each of the first two charges and a maximum sentence of 20 years on the third charge. 

The case was investigated by the FBI Kansas City Field Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly A. Brawley of the District of New Mexico and Trial Attorneys Zachary Dembo and Laura Gilson of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

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Author: February 27, 2020

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