Last week, The Inquisitr, among other sources, reported on a prison fighting ring in San Francisco that had been exposed and brought to a stop. This Monday, the two deputies responsible for organizing the ring in San Francisco’s Hall of Justice Jail were brought to court to plead their case.
The two defendants, former San Francisco Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Neu and current deputy Eugene Jones, had been accused after threatening to hurt or take food away from prisoners unless they fought head-to-head with one another, according to reports. The jail’s administration would gamble on the winners of the fights.
Australia Network News reports that the only way the ring was exposed was by one of the prisoners complaining to his father, who in turn relayed the story, during a visit.
Later, when bringing up the charges, reports Reuters, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office would compare the forced fighting organization to the one in the 1999 film Fight Club, an analogy that Neu’s attorney, Harry Stern, would argue during the trial was an attempt to sensationalize the case.
Inmates: Prison fight club ‘terrifying’ https://t.co/tp37S0CfKg— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) March 4, 2016
And during Monday’s trials in San Francisco, neither Neu nor Jones attempted to deny the fights had ever happened. They did, however, both plead innocent, insisting that the prisoners were the ones who wanted to fight each other in the first place.
Neu was the main player in actually organizing the fight club, and so Stern took center stage at the San Francisco hearing.
“They started out, as my understanding, really over a disagreement of who was in better shape,” said Stern.
The prosecutors, however, had a very different story, asserting that Neu had threatened to taze the prisoners unless they participated in the fight club. He had even forced a 150-pound prisoner to fight his 350-pound cellmate by offering the larger of the two a cheeseburger if he won, according to the prosecution.
Jones was not as instrumental in actually putting the fight club together, but according to reports, he looked the other way and is being charged as an accomplice.
“He’s scared to death. He’s a law enforcement officer; this is not supposed to happen,” Jones’s attorney said of his client, all the while insisting Jones had been an unwilling accomplice.
“Standing back watching for a few seconds, and then telling the people that were on the floor wrestling to get back in the kitchen where they belonged,” he continued, explaining that Jones had been instrumental in cutting the fights short.
In an attempt to protect both Jones and his own client, reports ABC, Stern claimed that George Gascon, the San Francisco DA, knows Neu and Jones are innocent but is keeping the case alive solely as a way to distract from the San Francisco prison system’s “real problems.”
“This is a situation for political reasons to cause a distraction over the incredibly high crime rate in this city.”
The San Francisco District Attorney office was outraged by Stern’s accusation, and their spokesman, Max Szabo, was quick to respond.
“That’s absurd. These are very serious allegations and I think Mr. Stern is trying to downplay them.”
The charges are indeed very serious. Neu was charged with assault by an officer, criminal threats, and inhumanity to a prisoner, among other things. Jones was also charged with similar offenses for ignoring his duty as an officer of San Francisco law. Between them, they are being charged with 17 different offenses, and both men could serve 10 years if found guilty.
Not only would they be serving time one of San Francisco’s federal prisons, but their fellow inmates would be the very ones they abused in order to get there, which would more than likely mean a very bad time for Jones and Neu.
The reason it is proving rather difficult for the San Francisco court to close the case, however, is because all the firsthand witnesses are criminals, a fact the defending attorneys are eager to point out, and criminals’ words are generally taken with a grain of salt in hearings.
NBC reports that San Francisco has scheduled both men to reappear in court on March 28.
[Photo by Borja Sanchez Trillo/Getty Images]