An Alabama grand jury indicted a former Grand Cyclops in the racist vigilante group the Ku Klux Klan in the town of Ozark on Wednesday. The man was charged with burning a cross at the entrance to an African-American neighborhood.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 28-year-old Steven Joshua Dinkle was indicted on five counts by the grand jury, including obstruction of justice. His mother, Pamela Morris, a former secretary for the local KKK was also indicted on perjury charges for lying to the grand jury about the incident.
On May 8, 2009, Dinkle and another man reportedly erected a cross and set it ablaze in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Ozark with the intention of frightening and intimidating the residents.
The counts against Dinkle further state that he obstructed justice by lying to local investigators about his role in the cross-burning and to federal investigators in 2012. Dinkle told investigators he had ended his association with the Klan six months before the incident and denied knowing others involved with the crime.
Morris, said the grand jury, lied on at least two separate occasions in her testimony. She lied about her son's involvement with the cross burning incident and about her own involvement with the hate group. She faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000 on each count of perjury.
Dinkle, if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for charges of conspiracy and criminal interference. He faces another maximum 10-year sentence for charges of the use of fire to commit a federal felony and a 20-year maximum sentence and possible $250,000 for making false statements to local investigators. He also faces a maximum 5-year sentence and $250,000 fine for making false statements to the FBI.
The case is still the subject of a joint investigation by the FBI, the Dale County Sheriff's Office and the Ozark Police Department. Further charges and indictments could be pending.
[image of cross burning via Wikipedia.com]