Bergen sheriff rejects report that jail hid truth of immigrant detainee’s suicide

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire “strenuously disagrees” with a published report that medical personnel at the county jail deliberately injected a dead immigration detainee with Motrin to try and hide the fact that he killed himself because of what his family said was “unbearable” pain from a untreated broken leg, a spokesman told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Federal investigators concluded that “unbearable, untreated pain had been a significant factor in the suicide of a 22-year-old detainee at the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey, and that the medical unit was so poorly run that other detainees were at risk,” The New York Times reports.

“The investigation found that jail medical personnel had falsified a medication log to show that the detainee, a Salvadoran named Nery Romero, had been given Motrin. The fake entry was easy to detect: When the drug was supposedly administered, Mr. Romero was already dead,” it says.

“Yet those findings were never disclosed to the public or to Mr. Romero’s relatives on Long Island, who had accused the jail of abruptly depriving him of his prescription painkiller for a broken leg.”

Given the facility’s track record under Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire, the report comes as a major shock.

Records show successful national healthcare accreditation each year, in addition to passing grades on state Department of Corrections inspections. The facility housed 1,503 immigration detainees last year, with few reported incidents.

McGuire told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM on Sunday afternoon that he cannot comment publicly on the matter. He deferred to the department spokesperson, Ben Feldman.

“The Office of the Bergen County Sheriff offers a level of healthcare in the Jail that is on par with what any individual could expect to receive in a modern medical facility anywhere in the United States,” Ben Feldman, a spokesman for McGuire, told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM. “As a facility that is in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year we are constantly evaluating and improving the quality and consistency of our services.

“There are a number of findings in the lone report you cite with which this agency strenuously disagrees,” Feldman added, without elaborating. “I.C.E. inspects the Jail monthly and our continued relationship with them is evidence that we retain their full faith in our ability to properly care for those individuals entrusted to our custody.

“The matter is presently part of ongoing litigation and as such we will not be commenting further on specific aspects of the situation. Any further questions should be submitted the Bergen County Counsel’s office.”

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