Former Georgia prison guard pleads guilty in 2018 beating

A former south Georgia prison guard has pleaded guilty to depriving an inmate of his rights after admitting he helped beat the inmate in retaliation for assaulting another guard.

Brian Ford pleaded guilty Monday to the crime in a federal court videoconference before U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson in Macon.

The 23-year-old Ford was a guard at Valdosta State Prison on Dec. 29, 2018 when he was part of a guard detail escorting an inmate to another cell after the inmate had assaulted a female guard.

Ford’s plea agreement states that while marching the inmate out, a sergeant told the other guards “We’re going to handle him.” The guard detail stopped between a building and recreational cages, and the plea agreement states Ford punched the inmate with his fist while the inmate was handcuffed on the ground and compliant. Another guard also hit the inmate, according to Ford’s plea. The sergeant had told others not to hit the inmate in the face so injuries would not be immediately visible.

It’s unclear if any of the other guards involved have been charged. Ford agreed to plead guilty to a criminal charge without an indictment, which could be a sign that he will provide evidence against others.

Ford faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, but is likely to be sentenced to much less under federal sentencing guidelines. He’s free on bail, with no sentencing date set yet.