WASHINGTON – Natchez, Miss., Police Department Officer Dewayne Johnson, 33, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit identity theft, credit card fraud and bank fraud by agreeing with his cousin to illegally use credit and debit cards stolen from an arrestee in Johnson’s custody, the Department of Justice announced today.
“Law Enforcement officers are sworn to protect and serve our communities, and they must be held accountable when they commit crimes like this one,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those officers that violate the Constitution.”
During his plea hearing, Johnson admitted that he took the debit and credit cards of an arrestee who was in his patrol car. Johnson further admitted that he gave his cousin, Patricia A. Wilson, at least one of the cards and knew that she used it to make personal purchases. He also admitted that he lied to the FBI about his involvement with the stolen cards.
Wilson, 34, of Ferriday, La., previously pleaded guilty to this same offense. Following a jury trial in March 2011, Johnson was convicted of violating the civil rights of the man in his custody by stealing his credit and debit cards.
Sentencing for Johnson is scheduled for Sept. 13, 2011. At sentencing, Johnson faces a maximum punishment of five years in prison for participating in the conspiracy and 12 months in prison for the civil rights offense based upon the theft.
Fellow Natchez Police Department Officer Elvis Prater, 36, was also charged with civil rights offenses related to the beatings of two men in police custody and with lying to the FBI. The jury acquitted Prater on one count, and failed to reach a verdict on the two remaining counts. Retrial of the charges against Prater will begin on July 25, 2011.
The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the Jackson, Miss., Division of the FBI and the Mississippi State Office of the Attorney General, and is being prosecuted by Fara Gold and AeJean Cha of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenda R. Haynes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi. This case was formerly prosecuted by Erin Aslan and Kevonne Small of the Civil Rights Division.