Lucas Co. Sheriff Telb indicted in prison death cover-up

Sheriff James Telb speaks to the media after being indicted by a Toledo grand jury Tuesday, Apr. 14, 2009

Lucas County Sheriff James Telb, along with three others, has been indicted on charges of federal civil rights violations relating to the 2004 death of an inmate at the Lucas County Jail, the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Last July, NBC24 was the first to report that federal officials were investigating the death of an inmate at the jail.

The federal indictment, handed down by a Toledo grand jury Tuesday, includes an alleged four-year cover-up of the role that the Lucas County Jail played in the inmate's death.

Carlton Benton, a 24-year old murder suspect, died June 1, 2004, after scuffling with deputies.

Wednesday's indictment states that former Deputy Sheriff John E. Gray left Benton unconcious after assaulting and strangling him May 30, 2004. Feds say that Deputy Sheriff Jay M. Schmeltz also assaulted Benton. Gray and Schmeltz are charged with having made false statements to the FBI in regards to the incident after the assaults were said to have taken place.

The indictment also alleges that Lt. Robert McBroom and Sheriff James Telb hid their knowledge of the incident and made false statements to the FBI during the course of it's investigation.

If convicted, Gray could face life in prison while Schmeltz could face a maximum ten year sentence. McBroom and Telb could each face a maximum of three years behind bars if convicted.

Click here to read the full indictment.