Former Ku Klux Klan secretary sentenced to prison for lying about son's involvement in Ozark cross burning 6, 2015

By Erin Edgemon

An Ozark woman and former secretary of a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was sentenced to 10 months in prison recently for committing perjury in a cross burning investigation.

U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler also sentenced Pamela Morris to three years of supervised probation following her release from prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Morris, 47, admitted during her plea hearing on June 12, 2014 that she lied to a federal grand jury investigating a cross-burning committed by her son, Steven Joshua Dinkle and another man, Thomas Smith.

At the time of the cross burning in May 2009, Dinkle was the exalted cyclops, the KKK's name for president, of an Ozark area chapter. Smith was a member of the group.

Dinkle and Smith burned a 6-foot tall cross at the entrance to a black neighborhood in Ozark to threaten and intimidate residents.

Several witnesses observed and were frightened by the cross, including a young man returning from choir practice as the defendants set the cross ablaze, according to authorities.

In sworn testimony before the grand jury, Morris made several false statements, including denying that she had been the secretary of the Klan or involved with the KKK at all.

In pleading guilty, Morris admitted that she had been an officer of the KKK and that her testimony denying any connection to the organization was false.  She also admitted she knew Dinkle had committed the cross burning.

Morris said she testified falsely to prevent the grand jury from learning about other KKK members who had information relevant to the investigation.

Dinkle is currently serving a 24-month sentence imposed on May 15, 2014, for his conviction on hate-crime and obstruction-of-justice charges related to the cross burning.  Smith, Dinkle's co-conspirator, was sentenced to five years of probation on Aug. 19, 2014.

"Acts that target individuals and communities for violence based on race have no place in our society," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  "Nor can we tolerate those who lie under oath to obstruct the pursuit of justice."

"Ms. Morris blatantly lied to the grand jury in an attempt to protect herself and to protect a cross burner," said U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. of the Middle District of Alabama.  "Ms. Morris lied after she swore to the grand jury that she would tell the truth.  For our system of justice to protect the rights of all, those who testify before the grand jury must provide accurate and honest information.  If someone fails to tell the truth while under oath, we will prosecute them."

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