Former Fort Deposit, Ala., Police Officer Carlos Tyson Bennett was arrested today on charges of stealing money from motorists on Interstate 65 in central Alabama and subsequently trying to conceal his criminal activity, announced the Justice Department.
Bennett, 36, of Greenville, Ala., was charged in an eight-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Alabama and unsealed today. He is charged with one count of conspiracy against rights, four counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, and three counts of obstruction of justice.
The indictment alleges that between April 2009 and July 1, 2009, Bennett conspired with a fellow officer to stop vehicles under the guise of legitimate law enforcement activity and to steal cash from drivers and passengers in violation of their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizures of property. The indictment further alleges four specific thefts in which Bennett, aided and abetted by the other officer, stole between $100 and $200 per victim. In addition, Bennett is charged with obstructing justice on three separate occasions. According to the indictment, Bennett also provided a fabricated story to a law enforcement official and sought to prevent the communication of information relating to these offenses to law enforcement officers.
If convicted, Bennett could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the conspiracy charge; one year in prison and a fine of $100,000 on each of the deprivation of rights charges; and 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of the obstruction charges.
This case is being investigated by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation; the Butler County, Ala., Sheriff’s Office; and the Lowndes County, Ala., Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Monica Stump for the Middle District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Chiraag Bains from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.