MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) — A onetime Ku Klux Klan leader is charged with burning a cross in a mostly black neighborhood in southeast Alabama, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Steven Joshua Dinkle, 28, was indicted on charges of conspiring to violate housing rights; criminally interfering with housing rights; using a fire to commit a felony; and obstruction of justice, the Justice Department said in a statement from Washington.
Prosecutors said Dinkle is the former exalted cyclops of a KKK chapter in Ozark. He is accused of burning a cross in a black neighborhood in Ozark in 2009 to intimidate residents. Dinkle’s Facebook page shows him displaying a Klan tattoo.
Dinkle was arrested Wednesday in Mississippi, although authorities did not give an exact location.
Dinkle’s mother, 45-year-old Pamela Morris, also was charged with committing perjury before a grand jury that investigated the case. She allegedly denied being involved in the Klan or knowing that her son was involved, too, prosecutors said.
Court records did not indicate whether Dinkle or Morris has a lawyer. Dinkle was named in a five-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday, the Justice Department said.
Located 85 miles south of Montgomery, Ozark is a town of about 15,000 people.
Prosecutors said Dinkle built a 6-foot-tall cross, wrapped it in jeans and a towel, doused it in fuel and set it ablaze in 2009. The cross was near the entrance to a mostly black neighborhood, authorities said.
The indictment claims Dinkle lied to local investigators in 2009 and federal agents last year. He claimed to have quit the KKK before the cross-burning, to have provided a false alibi and to have denied knowing a person who was in superior in the Klan, the indictment said.