Crime - Sacto 911

Their boss said they were involved in abusing inmates. But these sheriff’s employees pleaded not guilty

Three Placer County sheriff’s officials entered not guilty pleas Monday in a case charging that they were involved in using excessive force on half a dozen jail inmates and then trying to cover it up.

The three, Sgt. Megan Yaws, Deputy Robert Madden and corrections Officer Jeffrey Villanueva, appeared in Placer Superior Court early Monday for a brief hearing, then left the courthouse without speaking to reporters seeking comment.

The next hearing is set for Aug. 28 in the case, which was revealed May 31 when Sheriff Devon Bell announced that they had been arrested and charged over the allegations.

All three have since posted bail and are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.

Bell, who became choked with emotion as he announced the arrests, said the alleged abuse began in November and continued until mid-May, when a sheriff’s official conducting a routine review of jail video found it did not match up with a use-of-force report.

Madden and Villanueva face charges of assault by a public officer and filing false reports; Yaws faces charges of filing false reports.

Bell would not disclose details of the alleged abuse or release jail video, but said none of the alleged victims required hospital treatment.

He also insisted that “under no circumstances will unethical or illegal conduct be tolerated under my watch.”

Sam Stanton: 916-321-1091, @StantonSam

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