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September 24, 09

NEWS / Two Indiana Men Plead Guilty to Cross Burning

Richard LaShure, 41, and Aaron Latham, 20, both of Muncie, Ind., pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of an African American family and to interfering with their housing rights by burning a cross in the familyís yard.

According to the charging document, on July 25, 2008, the two men, acting with the assistance of a third participant, built a cross and poured gasoline on it, then set it on fire in the yard of an African-American family who lived in the neighborhood. They will be sentenced on Nov. 5, 2009.

This is the second case in two years in which the Civil Rights Division has brought charges for a cross burning that occurred in Muncie, Ind. Two men were convicted in 2008 for burning a cross at the home of a woman who had biracial children.

"These two men used a despicable and unmistakable symbol of hatred, the burning cross, to intimidate a family because they are African American," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will continue to prosecute this type of illegal, hateful behavior to the fullest extent of the law."

The guilty pleas resulted from an investigation by Special Agent Charlie Rownd from the Muncie Field Office of the FBI and Betsy Biffl from the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice .


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