EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire County Jail inmate broke another inmate’s nose with an unprovoked punch, authorities say.

Richard S. Ahler, 38, 919 Vernon St., Altoona, was charged Monday in Eau Claire County Court with a felony count of battery by prisoners.

A $5,000 signature bond was set for Ahler, which prohibits him from using abusive or threatening behavior toward anyone.

Ahler returns to court Feb. 24.

According to the criminal complaint:

The other inmate told a jailer he was sitting at a dayroom table in his housing unit on Dec. 3 when Ahler came out of a jail cell and started antagonizing him.

After accusing the other inmate of being rude and making comments about him, Ahler came up and leaned over the other inmate’s table.

Without warning, Ahler then punched the other inmate in the face with his right fist. The punch caused the other inmate’s nose to bleed profusely.

The other inmate was taken to Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, where medical staff said he had three fractures in his nose. A CT scan was performed to determine if there were any further internal injuries but the scan result was negative.

A third inmate told jailers he was sitting across the dayroom table from the other inmate.

The third inmate said he didn’t see the punch but heard it and saw that the other inmate was knocked to the floor.

The other inmate didn’t give Ahler permission to hit him, the third inmate said, adding that he believed the other inmate was hurt by the punch.

The third inmate said the other inmate’s nose was crooked and looked broken.

The third inmate said there didn’t seem to be a reason for Ahler punching the other inmate. But Ahler kept commenting about the other inmate talking “behind his back.”

Ahler is being prosecuted as a repeat offender. He was convicted of a felony count of possessing counterfeit drugs with intent to deliver in December in Eau Claire County.

If convicted of the battery charge, Ahler could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.