Georgia Residents Charged for Their Roles in Subjecting Hispanics to Unlawful Traffic Stops
WASHINGTON—Today, the Justice Department announced that the Grand Jury for the Middle District of Georgia charged Miguel Angel Reyes and Gloria Gallego with conspiring with former Lowndes County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Stacks to use Stacks’ law enforcement authority to violate Hispanic motorists’ civil rights, as well as with actually carrying out the scheme. The indictment was unsealed for Reyes yesterday and for Gallego today.
The indictment charges that Reyes and Gallego conspired with Stacks to subject Hispanic motorists to unlawful traffic stops so that the conspirators could demand that the motorists pay money in order to avoid arrest and/or deportation, in violation of the motorists’ right under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to be free from unreasonable seizures of person and property. The indictment also charges Reyes and Gallego with working with Stacks to unlawfully stop motorist T.C., and to use the threat of arrest and/or deportation to take $300 from T.C.
Additionally, the indictment charges Reyes with working with Stacks to detain motorist E.B. without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, in order to facilitate a robbery of E.B.’s home, in violation of E.B.’s rights under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to be free from unreasonable seizures of his person.
The civil rights conspiracy charge against Reyes and Gallego carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. The two substantive civil rights charges against Reyes each carry a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment, and the one substantive civil rights charge against Gallego carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office. The matter is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Risa Berkower of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, with support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.