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Former officer arrested on civil rights charges

A former Butler County Sheriff’s deputy and Greenville Police officer has been arrested on an eight-count federal indictment.

Carlos Tyson Bennett, 36, of Greenville, was arrested Tuesday in a joint effort by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and the Second District Judicial Task Force. He faces one count of conspiracy against rights, four counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, and three counts of obstruction of justice.

Bennett is accused of conspiring with a fellow officer to stop vehicles along Interstate 65 under the guise of legitimate law enforcement activity in order to steal cash from drivers and passengers, and subsequently trying to conceal his alleged criminal activity. At the time of his alleged crimes, which according to authorities occurred between April of 2009 and July of 2009, Bennett was working for the Fort Deposit Police Department.

Bennett had worked as a sheriff’s deputy under former Butler County Sheriff Diane Harris before he was arrested in September of 2006 for illegally purchasing $40 in prescription drugs. He had also worked as a police officer in Greenville.

Bennett was originally arrested in July of 2009, along with fellow Fort Deposit Police officer Jessie Fuller, and charged with robbery, first degree, and an ethics violation because of his position as a police officer.

He was arrested after the Butler County Sheriff’s Office received a call stating a man at a rest stop on I-65 South had just been pulled over and robbed by a police officer.

“He told us that a black and white police officer had stopped him on I-65 and took money from him,” Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden said. “I contacted the Lowndes County Sheriff to see if he had a black and white officer working together. He did so I met him at the Fort Deposit exit, and we all talked there and he found out that his people weren’t even on that side of the county.”

With that information, the BCSO was able to determine the officers were from the Fort Deposit Police Department.

“The victim there actually identified one of the police officers that pulled up as being one of them,” Harden said.

After a confession from one of the officers, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation quickly took over the investigation and was able to discover more victims.

The case was presented to the federal grand jury this year.

If convicted, Bennett could face to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison with a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge, one year in prison and a fine of $100,000 on each of the deprivation of rights charges and 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of the obstruction charges.

On Tuesday, Bennett was transported to Montgomery to be turned over to the U.S. Marshals.

Andy Brown contributed to this report.