Today, U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced Pamela Morris, former secretary of a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in Ozark, Alabama, to 10 months in prison and three years of supervised release for committing perjury during a grand jury’s investigation into a racially motivated cross-burning.
Morris, 47, previously admitted during her plea hearing on June 12, 2014, that she lied to a federal grand jury investigating a cross-burning committed by Steven Joshua Dinkle, Morris’s son and the Exalted Cyclops (president) 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. Several witnesses observed and were frightened by the cross, including a young man returning from choir practice as the defendants set the cross ablaze. In sworn testimony before the grand jury, Morris made several false statements, including denying that she had been the secretary of the Klan 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.
Dinkle is currently serving a 24-month sentence imposed on May 15, 2014, for his conviction on hate-crime and obstruction-of-justice charges related to the cross-burning. Smith, Dinkle’s co-conspirator, was sentenced to five years of probation on Aug. 19, 2014.
“Acts that target individuals and communities for violence based on race have no place in our society,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “Nor can we tolerate those who lie under oath to obstruct the pursuit of justice.”
“Ms. Morris blatantly 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. of the Middle District of Alabama. "Ms. Morris lied after she swore to the grand jury that she would tell the truth. 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 was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Dale County Sheriff’s Office and the Ozark Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerusha T. Adams and of the Middle District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Chiraag Bains of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.