Former prison employee indicted on sexual abuse charges

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PHOENIX -- A former federal prison employee has been indicted on charges that he sexually abused inmates.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted Joe Martinez, 48, on five counts of aggravated sexual abuse and eight counts of sexual abuse of a ward.

Martinez used to work at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Correctional Institution-Phoenix, which is located just north of Phoenix on Interstate-17.

The indictment accuses Martinez of sexually abusing two inmates who were under his authoritative and disciplinary control in 2008 and 2010.

“The debt one pays to society for having engaged in criminal activity does not include being subjected to sexual assault by prison staff,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel.

Aggravated sexual abuse carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. A conviction for sexual abuse of a ward has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.