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September 14, 11

NEWS / Former Natchez County, Miss., Officer Sentenced for Theft and Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON – DeWayne Johnson, 33, of Natchez, Miss., and a former Natchez Police Department officer, was sentenced yesterday to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge David Bramlette for crimes related to the theft and subsequent unlawful use of credit cards that belonged to a person in the custody of Johnson while he was on duty, the Department of Justice announced. Johnson was also sentenced to serve two years supervised release.

“Officers are tasked with the duty to protect and serve the public, and when they fail to do so, they violate the public’s trust,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department will aggressively prosecute any officer that violates the constitutional rights of those in their custody.”

“This sentencing should not reflect negatively on law enforcement or the Natchez Police Department,” said John Dowdy, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. “There are thousands of law enforcement officers who maintain the highest level of integrity and professionalism as they put their lives on the line every day, but when a cop goes bad and crosses the line, like this defendant, they will be prosecuted and punished just like the criminals they arrest every day.”

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers and officials both uphold and obey the law, wielding the power and authority granted to them with the utmost integrity,” said Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi. “The few who violate the trust of their communities, exploiting their government-granted powers, will be caught and tried like any other criminals. The FBI is committed to maintaining trust in law enforcement by holding those who abuse their power accountable.”

Johnson was convicted at trial on March 2, 2011, for violating the civil rights of an arrestee in his custody when he stole credit cards and debit cards belonging to the arrestee. Johnson subsequently entered a guilty plea on July 28, 2010, to conspiring with his cousin, Patricia A. Wilson, to commit identity theft, credit card fraud and bank fraud. Wilson 35, of Ferriday, La., entered a similar guilty plea on July 22, 2010.

According to court documents and evidence at trial, Johnson drove a man under arrest to jail, stopped his patrol car and stole credit and debit cards from the arrestee in his custody. Johnson gave one of the stolen cards to Wilson for personal purchases, and according to Wilson, Johnson used one of the stolen cards to buy sneakers at retail stores in Natchez and later admitted to her that he had tried to use a second stolen card. Evidence at trial showed that the cards were used at a gas station, restaurants and retail stores in Natchez and Vidalia, La.

Wilson was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Bramlette to two years probation.

These cases were investigated by the Jackson, Miss., Division of the FBI and the Mississippi State Office of the Attorney General, and were prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Erin Aslan and Kevonne Small and Fara Gold and AeJean Cha of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenda Haynes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.


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