Justice News

Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Former Memphis Police Officers Sentenced for Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights

WASHINGTON — Two former Memphis police officers were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Memphis for their roles in a conspiracy to rob drug dealers, the Department of Justice announced.

Former Memphis police officer Antoine Owens, who in August 2007 pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights, was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

Alexander Johnson, a former Memphis police officer who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights in April 2007, received a sentence of 30 months in prison and two years of supervised released.

Laterrica Woods, a civilian co-conspirator who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights in September 2007, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 22, 2009.

Another former Memphis police officer, Harold McCall, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2009, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights.

All four men admitted to conspiring with other former Memphis police officers, including Arthur Sease, who was tried and convicted in January 2009 of 44 counts including conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to distribute drugs, robbery, civil rights violations, drug distribution and firearms charges. Sease is scheduled to be sentenced on May 14, 2009.

Sease and his co-conspirators used their police authority to stop and detain drug dealers, often after Sease arranged a drug deal to lure a dealer to a particular location. They would then steal drugs and money from the dealers, and Sease would resell the stolen drugs. At Sease’s trial, the government introduced proof of 16 separate robberies, as well as one attempted robbery.

"Police officers are given tremendous authority and responsibility so that they can protect and serve the public trust," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. "Those who abuse that authority face serious consequences. The Civil Rights Division is committed to prosecuting all cases of official misconduct and to bringing these individuals to justice."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker of the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit unreasonable search and seizure, deprivation of property without due process of law, or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement and other government officials.

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