WASHINGTON – Richard G. Farnham, a former Pinnellas County Deputy Sheriff, was today sentenced to 12 months in prison and 12 months of supervised release for violating the federally protected civil rights of a man while Farnham was on storm patrol in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. Farnham was also ordered to pay $2,300 in restitution to the victim.
“Americans should not have to fear the abuse of authority by law enforcement officers,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “While the vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their duties with honor and respect, those who step out of line will be vigorously prosecuted by the Justice Department.”
Gregory R. Miller, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, stated, “This sentence is a meaningful penalty that promotes respect for the law by law enforcers as well as by the citizens of our Northwest Florida communities.”
Farnham was charged by federal grand jury on Nov. 14, 2006, and convicted on Feb. 8, 2007. The indictment alleged that on Sept. 20, 2004, Farnham, while acting in his capacity as a deputy sheriff, kicked and deployed a taser on an unnamed victim, and in so doing, willfully deprived the victim of his civil rights.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of the federal criminal civil rights statutes, such as laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. In fiscal year 2006, almost 50 percent of the cases filed by the Criminal Section involved excessive force or law enforcement misconduct. Since fiscal year 2001, the Division has filed 25 percent more such cases and convicted nearly 50 percent more defendants in these cases than in the preceding six years.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this matter. The case was jointly prosecuted by the Criminal Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida.