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January 28, 11

NEWS / Former Uplands Park, Missouri, Police Officer Sentenced on Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON - Leon Pullen, 32, of Foley, Mo., a former police officer employed by the Uplands Park Police Department in suburban St. Louis, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on civil rights violations stemming from several incidents where he sexually assaulted and stole money from women, the Justice Department announced.

According to court documents, Pullen was a police officer employed by the Uplands Park Police Department. On July 15, 2009, Officer Pullen responded to an advertisement placed on the internet. The woman posted her picture and contact information as a prostitute. Pullen contacted her via cell phone, identified himself as “Jimmy,” and, without identifying himself as a police officer, arranged to meet her at a specific location in Uplands Park. He agreed to pay $400 for sexual acts, and also asked her to bring a friend. When the woman arrived, a police vehicle pulled behind her car. Pullen, who was on duty and dressed in full uniform, including a badge and sidearm, approached her, showed her the ad she had posted on the Internet, and demanded to know how much money she had with her. Pullen made her follow him to the police station where he sexually assaulted her.

In February or March of 2009, Pullen answered another ad from a different woman and arranged to meet her at a hotel room that she had rented in St. Louis. When he arrived, he was wearing a blue jacket over a gray golf shirt that had a police badge embroidered onto the front with the words “Detective Pullen.” Once inside, he identified himself as a police officer and told her that she was under arrest. He displayed his firearm and handcuffs. After he sexually assaulted her, he took $100 in cash and her laptop computer. The victim told the FBI later that she was initially afraid to report the sexual assault when it happened because Pullen identified himself as a police officer.

Pullen sexually assaulted two more women using the same tactics in May and June 2009.

Following his arrest on Sept. 20, 2009, Pullen gave a voluntary statement to the FBI. First, he told the agents that he had never taken money from the victims, and denied to the FBI that he had ever engaged in sexual activity - consensual or otherwise - while on duty.

“Communities must be able to trust their law enforcement officers to protect public safety. When officers abuse their power and violate the rights of individuals in their communities, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Pullen pleaded guilty in July 2010 to one felony count of conspiracy to violate deprivation of rights under color of law, four felony counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, one felony count of conspiracy to commit interference with commerce by threats or violence, one felony count of interference with commerce by threats or violence, one felony count of tampering with a witness, and one felony count of making false statements. He appeared today for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Rodney W. Sippel.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Marcus and Former Civil Rights Division trial attorney Eric Gibson.


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AnnaMaria Realbuto
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