Former McGuire Memorial Employee sentenced to 10 Years in prison for assaulting disabled residents

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A resident of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in federal court  today for conspiring to commit and carrying out hate crimes against numerous severely disabled  victims, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today. 

United States District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan sentenced Tyler Smith, 34, of New Brighton,  Pennsylvania, to 120 months’ imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. Smith previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard  and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. 

“Today’s sentencing holds Tyler Smith accountable for the abhorrent and degrading assaults  he and Zachary Dinell carried out against more than a dozen victims—simply because they were  disabled,” U.S. Attorney Olshan said. “Hate crimes target and terrorize not just individuals but whole  communities. Our hope is that today’s result brings some measure of closure to the victims’ families  who have shouldered the crushing burden of Smith’s and Dinell’s conduct for so many years. This  office and our partners at the FBI will continue to work every day to give voice to the voiceless and  protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.” 

“I hope today’s decision brings some comfort to the families impacted by this egregious  crime,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Kevin Rojek. “Today’s sentencing shows there  is no room for hatred, and crimes against our most vulnerable citizens will be met with the force of  justice. The FBI and our partners stand committed to safeguarding the rights and dignity of every  individual.” 

According to admissions made during Smith’s plea hearing, he and co-defendant Zachary  Dinell were employees of an in-patient health care facility located in New Brighton, Pennsylvania.  Residents of the facility suffered from a range of severe physical, intellectual, and emotional  disabilities, and required assistance with all activities of daily life, including bathing, using the  bathroom, oral hygiene, feeding, and dressing. As members of the facility’s Direct Care Staff, Smith 

admitted that he and Dinell were responsible for providing this daily assistance to residents. -more-

From approximately June 2016 to September 2017, Smith admitted that he and Dinell engaged in a conspiracy to commit hate crimes against a total of 13 residents of the facility because  of the residents’ actual or perceived disabilities. Many of the victims required the use of a  wheelchair. Smith and Dinell carried out assaults in a variety of ways, including by punching and  kicking residents, rubbing Purell hand sanitizer in their eyes, spraying mouthwash in their eyes and  mouths, and, in one instance, removing a resident’s compression stocking in a manner intended to  inflict pain. Several of these assaults were recorded on Dinell’s cell phone. In one instance, Smith  admitted jumping on top of a 13-year-old minor while the child was lying prone on his bed with the  lights off, and while Dinell filmed the incident on his cellular phone. Smith further acknowledged  that immediately after recording the video, Dinell texted the video to him. 

As part of the conspiracy, Smith also admitted that he and Dinell exchanged graphic text  messages in which they expressed their animus toward the disabled residents, shared photographs and videos of residents, described their assaults, and encouraged each other’s continued abuse of  residents. 

Smith further admitted that he and Dinell were able to avoid detection by, among other things,  exploiting their one-on-one access to residents of the facility and the fact that the victims were non verbal and could not report the defendant’s alleged abuse. Due to their physical disabilities, the  residents also were not able to defend themselves against the assaults. 

Zachary Dinell previously pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 17 years’  imprisonment, followed by three years’ supervised release. 

United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan and Assistant United States Attorneys Carolyn J.  Bloch and Brendan J. McKenna prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. The Federal  Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the charges against Smith and Dinell. 

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