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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Former Shelby County, Tenn., Deputy Sheriff Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON – Adam S. Pretti, 31, a former deputy with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Memphis, Tenn., to using excessive force during an encounter with a citizen, the Justice Department announced.

During his plea hearing, Pretti acknowledged that he abused his authority as a law enforcement officer when, in March 2006, he willfully and without justification used excessive force by striking a man in the head. Pretti came into contact with the man while responding to a residence in Cordova, Tenn. Pretti agreed that his conduct violated federal law and the constitutional rights of the victim.

"This former law enforcement officer betrayed his oath of office and committed a crime," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King, "and now justice has been served."

A sentencing date for Pretti is scheduled for July 6, 2009. Based on the terms of his plea agreement, Pretti faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement and other government officials. In FY2008, the Division filed the largest-ever number of federal criminal civil rights cases in a single year in the Criminal Section’s history, and the second-highest ever number of official misconduct prosecutions.

The case was investigated by the Tarnished Blue Task Force, a multi-agency task force led by the FBI and staffed with investigators from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the Memphis Police Department and the Memphis office of the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Murphy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Erin Aslan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

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