Two Northern California sheriff's deputies and a former colleague have been charged with setting up jail inmates fights to gamble on them.

Former San Francisco Sheriff's deputy Scott Neu was charged Tuesday with eight felonies and nine misdemeanors, including assault by an officer and criminal threats.

Deputy Clifford Chiba faces three misdemeanor counts. Deputy Eugene Jones was charged with two felony counts, including assault by an officer and three misdemeanors.

The three are accused of threating the inmates with violence or refusing them food if they didn't fight. One of the inmates who said he was forced to fight set off local and federal investigations when he told the city's public defenders' office of the alleged scheme last year.

Harry Stern, an attorney for the San Francisco Deputy Sheriff's Association, the deputies' union, has called the allegations "exaggerated" and the fighting "little more than horseplay."