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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Former Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Arrested on Civil Rights Charges

WASHINGTON – Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Loretta King and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Tim Johnson today announced the arrest of a former trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety who is charged with depriving multiple Latino motorists of their civil rights. According to the four count indictment returned by a federal Grand Jury in Corpus Christi, Texas, on April 8, 2009, Michael Anthony Higgins violated federal law by willfully stealing money from Latino motorists that he had stopped on the highway while working as a trooper.

"The brave work of our nation’s law enforcement officers must always be guided by adherence to the laws they are sworn to uphold," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will vigorously investigate and prosecute allegations where a law enforcement officer may have violated the rights of an individual."

"Whenever a law enforcement officer uses his or her position to violate the rights of a victim, quick action will be taken by this office," said Tim Johnson, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. "When there are vulnerable victims as in this case, we will advocate for the strictest punishment allowed by law."

If convicted, Higgins faces a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison, restitution and a $400,000 fine. An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Texas Rangers and Officers of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The case is being prosecuted by Ruben Perez of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas and Jim Felte from the Civil Rights Division.

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