LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A federal appellate panel Thursday threw out a four-year sentence given to a former Chino prison guard convicted of abusing inmates.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a district judge in Los Angeles should re-sentence Robert McGowan. He was convicted by a federal jury in 2007 after being accused of assault in a case in which shackled inmates were thrown to the ground.

In his appeal, McGowan, 42, of Apple Valley successfully argued that he was deprived of due process when the trial judge relied on a state prison inmate’s “unreliable allegations” as a basis for the 51-month sentence imposed in 2010.

While the jailhouse informant was under oath during his testimony, his allegations were absent “any other procedural mechanism that would ensure that a witness with the incentive to lie was telling the truth,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the appeal.

Reinhardt concluded that McGowan’s “right to due process was violated when the district court relied on unreliable, unsubstantiated allegations in imposing his sentence.”

McGowan is at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Ky., according to a federal inmate locator.


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