Former Lowndes County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Stacks, 29, was sentenced today to serve 21 months in prison and two years supervised release for his role in a civil rights conspiracy aimed at stealing money from Hispanic motorists, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division and U. S. Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia. Also sentenced today were two civilians – Gloria Gallego and Miguel Angel Reyes – who will serve 24 months and 30 months in prison, respectively, as well as three years supervised release for conspiring with Stacks to use his law enforcement authority to unlawfully detain and steal money from the motorists.
On May 6, 2014, Stacks pleaded guilty to a civil rights conspiracy charge, admitting that he participated in a plan with the civilians to subject Hispanic motorists to unlawful traffic stops so that his co-conspirators could then demand that the motorists pay money in order to avoid arrest and/or deportation. On Mar. 26, 2015, Gallego and Reyes pleaded guilty to the same charge. According to information made public in the plea hearings, Stacks, while acting as a sheriff’s deputy, unlawfully detained at least four motorists on Aug. 17, 2013. One of the motorists, who was identified in the plea documents by the initials T.C., was unlawfully detained by Stacks and then approached by Gallego and Reyes, who posed as bilingual passers-by who wanted to help T.C. Gallego and Reyes told T.C. in Spanish that he would be sent to jail or deported if he did not pay them $500. When T.C. responded that he did not have $500 in his car, the conspirators agreed to let T.C. go home to get the money from his relatives. Gallego and Reyes drove T.C. to his residence and took $300 in cash from him. Stacks, Gallego, and Reyes then divided the money among them.
“Stacks abused his authority by engaging in a scheme with two accomplices to target and steal money from those he was sworn to protect,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “The Justice Department will hold accountable officers who violate their oath by violating the civil rights of members of the public.”
“Law enforcement officers take an oath to protect and serve the public and, based on the duty and responsibility that imposes, the public in turn invests them with great authority and respect,” said U.S. Attorney Moore. “The abuse of that power and authority, such as happened here, lessens that respect and trust by the public in all law enforcement, thus victimizing not only the victims specifically targeted but all law enforcement officers everywhere as well as the public generally.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Risa Berkower of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.