Former Alabama councilman convicted of threatening police officer on radio show

A former Alabama city councilman who threatened on a radio show to hurt the police officer who arrested him for drunk driving has been sentenced to three years probation.

According to information released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama, the case dates back to late 2020. Luther James Upton, then a councilman in Evergreen, was arrested for impaired driving after being involved in a shipwreck. “Video of the DUI incident showed Upton attempting to use his position on City Council to pressure the victim officer into not arresting him,” a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In May 2021, Upton discussed the incident on his morning radio show on WPPG-FM 101.1, a station nicknamed “The Power Pig”. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “Upton referenced previous incidents involving the victim’s officer and said on the radio, among other things, ‘I dare him to arrest me again. ‘Because when he m ‘Will stop, I’ll put it down.'”

Federal court records show that in a case filed in November 2021, Upton was charged with threatening interstate communications, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. In subsequent proceedings, prosecutors asked that the officer’s name be omitted from publicly available court records because the victim “has the statutory right, under the Crime Victims Rights Act (CVRA ), to be” treated fairly and with respect for [his] dignity and privacy.’ The request was accepted.

Assistant US Attorneys Sinan Kalayoglu and Justin Roller prosecuted the case, which was also investigated by the FBI. Jury selection took place and a trial began on February 22. That same day, Upton’s attorney filed a notice of intent to plead guilty.

District Judge Kristi K. DuBose ordered Upton. 74, to undergo mental health and addiction treatment while on probation.

State court records indicate the DUI case was dismissed in February after Upton completed a pretrial diversion program and paid the corresponding fines.

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