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Former Franklin County, Alabama, District Attorney Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON – John Pilati, the former district attorney for Franklin County, Ala., was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama on five civil rights offenses related to sexual assaults on young men during his tenure as district attorney, the Justice Department announced. Pilati was sentenced to 42 months of imprisonment and will be monitored on federal supervised release for one year following his release from prison. The sentence also requires him to pay a fine of $12,500 and to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.

Pilati was convicted following a jury trial on Nov. 1, 2007. The evidence at trial demonstrated that between March 2001 and February 2004, while serving as district attorney, Pilati started and personally administered a drug-testing program for individuals suspected or convicted of misdemeanor drug violations. The evidence also demonstrated that during the course of administering some of these tests, Pilati repeatedly fondled the genitals of young men who ranged in age from 16 to 20 years old. Pilati was charged with and convicted of five civil rights offenses for five separate incidents involving five different victims of his assaults.

“Most law enforcement officers perform their difficult duties with honor and professionalism,” stated Acting Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker. “The Department of Justice will hold accountable any prosecutor who steps over the line and engages in this sort of misconduct, especially where it victimizes minors and young adults.”

The case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Patrick Stokes and Alabama Attorney General's Office Special Agent Christopher McRae. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Christine Dunn and Stephen Curran from the Civil Rights Division.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as the 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 law enforcement prosecutions. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Criminal Section convicted the highest number of defendants in its history, surpassing the record previously set in Fiscal Year 2006. During the last seven years, the Criminal Section obtained convictions of 53 percent more defendants (391 v. 256) in law enforcement prosecutions than the previous seven years.