Two Suffolk correction officers have been indicted on charges of beating an inmate at the Riverhead jail in 2013 and one faces additional counts of creating a false report to cover it up.
Vincent Cennamo III, 53, of Manorville, and Mark Nicol, 46, of Ronkonkoma, pleaded not guilty Thursday. Both are charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Cennamo also faces charges of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and first-degree falsifying business records, both felonies, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.
Suffolk County Court Judge Timothy Mazzei allowed both men to remain free with no bail.
“This stems from an internal investigation that was referred to the district attorney’s office,” said Michael Sharkey, chief of staff for the sheriff’s office, which runs the jail. He said both officers are suspended without pay.
The charges arise out of a Nov. 27, 2013, incident in the jail kitchen involving Joshua Durkel, 32, an inmate who was there after violating probation imposed after a previous drug conviction.
A source familiar with the case said the officers attacked Durkel during a disagreement over how long it should take to clean the kitchen. Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford said her office has surveillance video from the area, but did not say what it depicts.
But an incident report filled out by Cennamo said, “Inmate Durkel stated that he had slipped in the kitchen and hit his head on the side of the stove. I observed a cut above his right eyebrow.”
The report said Cennamo sent Durkel to get medical attention and he ended up receiving treatment at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead.
Durkel now lives in Florida and could not be reached for comment. After his release, he filed a notice of claim against the county.
Cennamo’s attorney, William Petrillo, said his client “has an unblemished record in his years of service. Consistent with that, he did not commit a crime in this case.”
Nicol’s attorney, Joseph Conway, said his client “looks forward to clearing his name in court.”
Both lawyers questioned why it took so long to bring charges and suggested that a notice of claim filed by Durkel after his release had something to do with it.
But Robert Clifford, spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said simply that it was a lengthy investigation.