Former Ku Klux Klan Officer Pleads Guilty to Committing Perjury During Investigation into Cross-Burning
Pamela Morris, former secretary of a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in Ozark, Alabama, pleaded guilty today to committing perjury during a grand jury’s investigation into a racially motivated cross-burning in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.
Morris, 46, admitted in plea documents that on Feb. 20, 2013, she lied to a federal grand jury looking into a cross-burning committed by Steven Joshua Dinkle, Morris’s son and the leader of the local KKK, and Thomas Smith, another KKK member. On May 8, 2009, Dinkle and Smith burned a six-foot tall cross at the entrance to an African-American neighborhood in Ozark to threaten and intimidate residents. In sworn testimony before the grand jury, Morris made several false statements, including denying that she had been the secretary of the chapter or involved with the KKK at all.
In pleading guilty, Morris admitted that she had been an officer of the KKK and that her testimony denying any connection to the organization was false. She further acknowledged that she knew Dinkle had committed the cross-burning. In addition, Morris admitted that she testified falsely to prevent the grand jury from learning about other KKK members who had information relevant to the investigation.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. Morris faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Dinkle pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2014, to hate crime and obstruction of justice charges related to the cross-burning. On May 15, 2014, he was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison. Smith, Dinkle’s co-conspirator, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with housing rights on Dec. 6, 2013. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 19, 2014.
“Defendant Morris lied under oath blatantly and repeatedly to hinder an investigation into a cross-burning that was committed to intimidate an entire community,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The department will continue to hold accountable not only those who commit such acts of violence, but also those who lie and obstruct the investigation into these crimes of intimidation.”
“Ms. Morris lied to the grand jury in an attempt to protect herself and to protect a cross burner,” said U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. for the Middle District of Alabama. “When someone testifies in court they swear to tell the truth. Unfortunately, Ms. Morris lied. For our system of justice to protect the rights of all, those who testify before the grand jury must provide accurate and honest information. If someone fails to tell the truth while under oath, we will prosecute them.”
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 Civil Rights Division.