updated 4/29/2011 8:29:39 PM ET 2011-04-30T00:29:39

Talk about a role reversal: Two New York jail guards are in trouble after an inmate stepped in to break up their fight over food.

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Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman says both corrections officers are suspended with pay after what he calls an "embarrassment."

The inmate required medical attention but Wipperman says privacy laws prevent him from disclosing his injuries. Prison personnel told The Buffalo News that the inmate lost a tooth in the scuffle.

Wipperman says the inmate got between the unarmed guards because he didn't want either to get fired.

He wouldn't confirm a Buffalo News report that the April 21 bout started over a bag of chips. It happened at Erie County Correctional Facility in a dorm-like building.

Wipperman identified the officers as Lawrence Mule, a 26-year veteran, and James Conlin, who was hired 29 years ago. A message with the officers' union wasn't immediately returned.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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