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Former Warden Pleads Guilty, Will Cooperate With Investigators

The Justice Center in Downtown Cleveland is home to county courts and the jail. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
photo of cuyahoga county jail

Updated: 5:32 p.m., Aug. 19, 2019

The former warden of the Cuyahoga County Jail pleaded guilty Monday to two misdemeanor charges related to his time running the troubled facility. 

Eric Ivey faces jail time after agreeing to the guilty plea on charges of obstruction of justice and lying — and could get a sentence ranging from probation to up to a year behind bars in the jail he once supervised.

The charges against Ivey came in the aftermath of a 2018 inmate overdose death at the jail. Ivey told the guards to turn off their body cameras while they dealt with the situation and later lied to investigators about his reasoning for the order.

Ivey was demoted to associate warden in February because of an unrelated county policy violation. He oversaw his wife's supervisor at the jail, which is against the county's nepotism rules.

Prosecutor Matthew Meyer said during Monday's hearing there were a few conditions that went with the plea.

“The defendant would agree to testify truthfully and give truthful statements in any proceeding in which he’s called upon to do so concerning the Cuyahoga County Jail or the operation of Cuyahoga County government,” Meyer said.

Under Ivey's plea agreement, he also has to leave his current job at the jail.

The county's former director of regional corrections, Kenneth Mills, is awaiting trial on unrelated charges, along with former county employees Emily McNeeley and Douglas Dykes. 

Ivey loomed large in a 2018 U.S. Marshals report describing the use of food as punishment and inmates being deprived of their rights to a disciplinary hearing, among other problems at the jail.

Terry Gilbert, a lawyer suing the county on behalf of inmates at the jail, said Monday he hopes Ivey will tell prosecutors what he knows about conditions inside the jail.

"He knew about the deprivations inmates had to endure, the daily complaints of failure to provide medical and mental health care, the unsanitary conditions, the brutality of the [corrections officers], the horrible conditions of the red zones," Gilbert said.

The plaintiffs, in that case, are asking for federal oversight of the jail while reforms are made.

A spokeswoman for County Executive Armond Budish declined to comment on Ivey's guilty plea. Budish has said the county is making progress toward correcting the problems found in last year's U.S. Marshals' report.

Ivey’s sentencing is scheduled for September.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.