Former Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Depriving Motorist of Civil Rights by Kidnapping

The Justice Department announced that U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson sentenced former Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Franklin Joseph Ryle Jr. to 15 years in prison today for depriving a man of his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizures by kidnapping the man and for using his firearm in relation to the crime.

Ryle had pleaded guilty to the crimes and admitted that while working on duty as a Highway Patrol trooper on the night of Jan. 8, 2009, he stopped a Wal-Mart truck with the intent to murder the driver and stage an accident with the truck that would either injure him or kill Ryle’s wife. As part of the scheme, Ryle intended to seek a monetary settlement from Wal-Mart.

"This officer abandoned his law enforcement role and engaged in a bizarre scheme to target innocent victims for his own personal gain. Officers who abuse their power in this way will be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Civil Rights Division.

Ryle stopped the driver on an isolated stretch of Interstate 25, a few miles southeast of Douglas, Wyo. After collecting his license, Ryle falsely told the driver that there was a warrant for his arrest. Ryle arrested him, handcuffed him and locked him in the back seat of his patrol car in a cage designed to carry persons under arrest. Ryle drove away from the scene with his prisoner and into Douglas where he unsuccessfully sought help with his scheme from his unwitting wife and two law enforcement officer friends. Ultimately, Ryle released the driver after he determined that the scheme would fail due to the presence of GPS equipment in the truck.

The investigation was conducted by Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agents Mike Carlson and Darri Cregger, and FBI Special Agent Richard Fanelli. Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Edward Caspar and Christopher Lomax prosecuted this case for the United States. The Wyoming U.S. Attorney’s Office was recused from the matter.