A Valencia man who was a deputy for the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station received probation Monday after pleading no contest to an accusation that he beat an inmate in his custody.
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Matthew John Funicello, 31, of Valencia, was accused of repeatedly striking a 19-year-old inmate several times with his fist July 22, 2011, while the inmate was in the backseat of his patrol car.
Funicello’s charge was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor as part of a negotiated plea, said Jane Robison of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
“He pleaded to a misdemeanor count of assault by a public officer,” Robison said. “He was sentenced to three years of summary probation and ordered to complete one year of counseling.”
The assault occurred while the inmate was being transported from the Sheriff’s Department’s Palmdale Station to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.
Funicello was placed on paid leave shortly after the alleged beating, said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore. Funicello was a five-year member of the Sheriff’s Department when the assault took place.
The complaint was filed in April by Deputy District Attorney Geoffrey Rendon of the Justice System Integrity Division.
It charges Funicello with one count of violating Penal Code section 149, assault under color of authority.
Funicello was booked at the Crescenta Valley Station late Thursday and released on $35,000 bail.
He pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned May 20 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Department 30.
Funicello faced a maximum of three years in county jail if he was convicted of the original assault charge.
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Source: Santa Clarita News