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Prison guard who sexually abused female inmates will spend two years behind bars

Prison guard who sexually abused female inmates will spend two years behind bars
A federal correctional officer convicted of sexually abusing female inmates at a Victorville facility has been sentenced to two years in prison. (Federal Bureau of Prisons)

A one-time federal correctional officer convicted of sexually abusing female inmates at a Victorville facility has been sentenced to two years in prison.

As a supervisor at the correctional facility, Apolonio Gamez was meant to guard and protect the female inmates, but prosecutors say he was a sexual predator who preyed on the women.

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In addition to two years in prison, Gamez, 41, of Lake Elsinore, was sentenced to seven years’ probation and was ordered to pay a $5,000 special assessment. He must register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.

Gamez pleaded guilty in October to three felony charges: two counts of sexual abuse of an inmate and one count of attempted sexual abuse of an inmate. He admitted that he had engaged in sexual activity with the women between September 2016 and July 2017 after investigators recovered DNA from one inmate’s clothing that connected him to the attacks.

In September 2016, Gamez directed a female inmate into a walk-in freezer and ordered her to perform oral sex on him, prosecutors said. After that attack, Gamez took the same inmate to a warehouse in a remote part of the facility and forced her to have sex with him, according to court records.

In May 2017, Gamez caught another inmate trying to steal food and threatened to send her to the “hole” — the so-called special housing unit. He then forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to his plea agreement.

The woman told investigators she did not resist because “she felt frozen and powerless with fear,” according to court filings in the case.

After the assault, the inmate wiped her mouth on her bra and preserved Gamez’s DNA in her cell, according to court documents. Federal investigators later recovered the specimen.

That summer, Gamez admitted in court papers to exposing himself to a third inmate, whom he attempted to engage in sexual activity. She fled during the attempted assault.

Gamez was arrested by federal authorities in March 2018 based on multiple allegations that he was sexually abusing inmates at the women’s medium-security prison.

He is the latest in a series of correctional officers to be convicted of illegal behavior at the Victorville facility, which includes three levels of security and houses men and women.

Another correctional officer, Ignacia Adrian Sobers Jr., 31, was sentenced in 2017 to six months in prison for accepting a $1,000 bribe to smuggle pornography and MP3 players to an inmate.

That same year, Cynthia Flores, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law and one count of falsification of records after she kicked a handcuffed inmate and then lied to investigators, saying she was attacked by the prisoner.

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