Steven Joshua Dinkle, former Exalted Cyclops of a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in Ozark, Ala., was arrested on Wednesday, Nov. 27, in Mississippi for burning a cross at the entrance to a predominantly African-American neighborhood and for obstructing the investigation into the offense. Pamela Morris, Dinkle’s mother and the former secretary of the KKK chapter, was arrested on Nov. 21, 2013, for committing perjury before the grand jury investigating the cross burning.
Dinkle, 28, was charged in a five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Alabama that was unsealed on Nov. 27. The indictment charges him with one count of conspiracy to violate housing rights, one count of criminal interference with the right to fair housing, one count of using fire to commit a federal felony and two counts of obstruction of justice.
The indictment alleges that on May 8, 2009, Dinkle conspired with another person to burn a cross in an African-American neighborhood to threaten and intimidate residents of that neighborhood and thereby interfere with their federally protected housing rights. Dinkle allegedly constructed a six-foot cross, wrapping jeans and a towel around it. He and his co-conspirator drove the cross to an African-American community near Johntown Road in Ozark where Dinkle poured fuel on the cross, erected it in the ground and set it on fire. The indictment further contends that Dinkle obstructed justice by lying to local investigators in 2009, and federal investigators in 2012. Dinkle claimed he had withdrawn from the KKK months before the cross burning, provided a false alibi and denied knowing a person who was, in fact, his superior in the KKK.
The grand jury returned a separate indictment against Morris, 45, charging her with two counts of perjury. The indictment alleges that Morris made multiple false statements to the grand jury investigating the cross burning when she denied her own involvement in the KKK and knowing that Dinkle was also involved.
If convicted, Dinkle could face a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy and criminal-interference counts; sentence maximum of 10 years in prison for the use-of-fire; a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for obstructing justice by making false statements to local investigators; and a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for making false statements to the FBI.
If convicted, Morris could face a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count of perjury.
This case is being investigated by the FBI, with the assistance of the Dale County Sheriff’s Office and the Ozark Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerusha T. Adams of the Middle District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Chiraag Bains of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.