Former Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen was sentenced Thursday (March 10) to 48 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for assaulting two individuals in his custody.
The sentencing followed a six-day trial in August 2021 at which a jury in the Western District of Arkansas convicted Boen, 51, of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Prosecuting Attorney David Fowlkes.
The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon T. Carter and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer.
Evidence presented at trial established that Boen used unreasonable force to punish pretrial detainees on two separate occasions. On Dec. 3, 2018, Boen struck a detainee multiple times in the head with a closed fist while the detainee was sitting on the floor and shackled to a bench inside the Franklin County Jail. Several minutes later, Boen returned to the detainee’s cell and struck him in the head again, then spit on him.
On Nov. 21, 2018, Boen slammed a detainee onto the floor and ripped his hair during an interrogation. Both detainees suffered bodily injury as a result of Boen’s actions. During the subsequent investigation of these offenses, Boen contacted officers who witnessed his assaults and pressured them not to provide truthful information to investigators.
“Anthony Boen swore an oath to support the United States Constitution and the State of Arkansas Constitution,” Fowlkes said in a statement. “His actions clearly violated not only the civil rights of these individuals but also the trust of the people of Franklin County. Cases like this are very important to our office because they involve the most personal and basic of civil rights: the rights to be protected and unharmed while in the custody of law enforcement officers. Today’s sentencing shows that justice will prevail in cases where a person’s civil rights are violated. We will continue to vigorously pursue cases involving the violation of basic civil rights that should be afforded to everyone.”
“No one is above the law, especially high-ranking law enforcement officers who have a duty to uphold the Constitution and protect individuals in their custody,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The defendant abused his power as sheriff by assaulting the people he was sworn to protect and pressuring his subordinates to cover up his crimes. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute law enforcement officials who violate people’s civil rights.”