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Former officer sentenced to 4 years in prison for improper force

July 23, 2012 |  6:37 pm

A former Desert Hot Springs police sergeant was sentenced Monday to four years in federal prison for pepper-spraying and using a stun gun on two suspects in custody "without any lawful justification," according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

Anthony Sclafani, 42, of Beaumont was convicted of two counts of deprivation of rights under the color of law.

In February 2005, Sclafani pepper-sprayed and used a stun gun on a handcuffed suspect, the statement said. In another incident, Sclafani used pepper spray and a stun gun on a woman through the door of a locked prison cell even though she was too inebriated to stand, according to the statement.

Prosecutors wrote in court papers that Sclafani "intimidated, abused and repeatedly assaulted two helpless victims who were in his custody at the jail.... To cover up his illegal conduct, he then concocted lies that the victims were combative and physically resistant to justify his use of force."

A 2010 internal investigation by the Desert Hot Springs Police Department failed to find evidence of excessive force, said Asst. U.S. Atty. Steven M. Arkow.

"The truth about what occurred was not borne out by the internal investigation," Arkow said. "It didn't come out until the case was tried before a jury."

Sclafani was indicted in 2010 along with a second former officer of the department, David Raymond Henderson.

Henderson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor civil rights charge and was sentenced to a year of probation.

Sclafani was convicted in April after the jury deliberated for less than half a day.

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-- Frank Shyong

twitter.com/frankshyong

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