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Press Release

Former Southeast Missouri Police Officer Indicted on Civil Rights Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU – A former police officer from the southeast Missouri city of Piedmont has been indicted and accused of violating the civil rights of two people and then lying to the FBI about it.

Woodrow Massa, 66, of Wayne County, was indicted by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau Tuesday on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of lying to the FBI.

The indictment says Massa, while a Piedmont police officer, participated in the arrest and detention of two people “despite the absence of an arrest warrant or probable cause.” The arrest deprived the people of the Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizure, the indictment says.

The first arrest, of someone identified in court documents as “J.R.,” occurred on Aug. 12, 2020, the indictment says. The second, of “E.W.,” occurred on Dec. 22, 2020, the indictment says.

The indictment says Massa lied about the arrest of J.R. twice in FBI interviews: first on Oct. 5, 2020 in Wayne County and again on May 24, 2021 in Cape Girardeau County. Massa lied by saying he was not present in the booking room while J.R. was being processed, despite a video recording depicting his presence there, the indictment says.

Massa is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau October 13 to answer the charges.

Each misdemeanor civil rights charge carries a potential penalty of up to a year in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both. The felony charge of making a false statement carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Krug is prosecuting the case.

Updated October 5, 2022

Civil Rights