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Ex-state prison official sentenced after inmate beatdown

A former correctional officer in the state prison system will serve federal prison time after he beat up an inmate in his office, then tried to cover it up, officials said Friday.

Michael J. Baxter, 49, of Grand Ridge, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Panama City to 5 years in prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida.

Baxter was convicted in January of “falsifying records to obstruct a federal investigation,” the release said. He was a major at the Apalachee Correctional Institution.

He “knowingly falsified use-of-force and incident reports to obstruct an investigation into allegations of a violent assault on an inmate” in 2015, the release said.

The inmate “was assaulted in Major Baxter’s office on the day the inmate was going to be married,” the release said.

“Blood splatter from the inmate’s head was found on the floor of the office, and medical records confirmed significant damage to the inmate’s face and head. Afterward, Major Baxter falsified his reports to obstruct the investigation into the assault.”

In a statement, Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones said Baxter’s actions “were unacceptable and are in no way a reflection of the thousands of correctional officers who work diligently every day to watch over our inmates.

“Protecting those in our custody is the Department’s chief priority, and we are committed to ensuring fair and appropriate treatment as they serve their time in the correctional system,” she added.

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