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Memphis Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring with Police Officers to Commit Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON – Memphis resident Laterrica Woods, 31, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Memphis to a felony civil rights charge.

Woods pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of motorists in 2005. During his guilty plea hearing, Woods acknowledged that he violated federal law when he helped Memphis Police Department (MPD) Reserve Officer Andrew Hunt and others rob motorists of cocaine during traffic stops.

Woods is a co-defendant of former MPD Officer Arthur Sease. Sease was indicted in federal court in August 2006 and charged with 50 counts of illegal conduct including conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. Sease’s trial is scheduled to begin in Memphis on March 17, 2008. Hunt and former MPD Officers Antoine Owens and Alexander Johnson have previously pleaded guilty to related crimes.

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 officials. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights prosecutions. During the past six years, the Department of Justice has convicted nearly 50% more defendants for official misconduct than during the preceding six years.

This case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the MPD Security Squad. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice are prosecuting the case.