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Former Kentucky State Trooper Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations and Witness Tampering

WASHINGTON – Jason O’Bannon, a former Kentucky State Trooper assigned to the London Post, was sentenced today in federal court in Lexington, Ky., to 10 months imprisonment for tampering with a witness and for violating the civil rights of a female victim. After his release from prison, O’Bannon will be on federal supervised release for two years.

O’Bannon worked as a Kentucky State Trooper from 1996 to 2007. On Aug. 17, 2007, O’Bannon pled guilty to a two-count criminal information, charging him with one felony count of witness tampering and one misdemeanor count of violating the civil rights of a female victim. Specifically, O’Bannon admitted that he attempted to coerce the female victim, who worked for the Kentucky State Police as an undercover drug informant, into performing a sexual act in exchange for O’Bannon reducing or dropping the criminal charges that she faced. O’Bannon also admitted that he asked a fellow trooper to lie to a federal grand jury that was investigating O’Bannon for civil rights violations.

“This defendant violated the public’s trust by abusing his law enforcement authority and then asking a fellow police officer to lie to a federal grand jury to cover up his criminal conduct,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. “This prosecution demonstrates that the Justice Department is committed to aggressively pursuing law enforcement officials who willfully abuse the law.”

“O’Bannon not only betrayed the trust of the community, but also of all those proud officers who came before him and made the Kentucky State Police one of the model police agencies in the nation,” said James A. Zerhusen, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “Our office will continue to prosecute those who take advantage of the confidence placed in them and hold them accountable for their actions.”

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the aggressive enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws. In the past seven years of this Administration, the Division has convicted over 50 percent more defendants for color of law or official misconduct violations than in the previous seven years. The Division continues to set records in the enforcement of criminal civil rights laws. Last year, the Division convicted 189 defendants for civil rights violations, which is a record number in the 50-year history of the Division. Last year’s record broke the record set in 2006.

This case was investigated by Special Agent Steven Wight of the Louisville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Lieutenant Vic Brown of the Kentucky State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Dicken from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Lexington and Trial Attorneys Gerard Hogan and Evan Rikhye from the Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.