Fourth Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Assault Based on Victim’s Sexual Orientation
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Anthony Shelton, 19, pleaded guilty yesterday to assaulting a man because of the victim’s sexual orientation, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas, and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Dallas Division announced.

According to the plea agreementShelton admitted that he and Nigel Garrett used Grindr, a social media dating platform for gay men, to arrange to meet the victim at the victim’s home. Upon entering the victim’s home, the defendants restrained the victim with tape, physically assaulted the victim, and made derogatory statements to the victim for being gay. The defendants brandished a firearm during the home invasion, and they stole the victim’s property, including his motor vehicle. 

A federal grand jury previously had returned an eighteen-count superseding indictment, against Shelton and three other men, that included charges for hate crimes, kidnappings, carjackings, and the use of firearms to commit violent crimes.The indictment also charged the defendants with conspiring to cause bodily injury because of the victims’ sexual orientation during four home invasions in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas, from January 17 to February 7, 2017. Nigel Garrett, Chancler Encalade, and Cameron Ajiduah subsequently pleaded guilty to hate crime charges from this indictment, and all three await sentencing

“Hate crimes are violent crimes that attack the fundamental principles of the United States to be free from fear of violence because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, or national origin,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Justice Department will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute hate crimes.”

"Crimes of violence are an investigative priority for the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. "An assault perpetrated because of one's race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or among other prohibited factors, is an attack on American values. We will leave no stone un-turned to prosecute hate crimes."

Shelton faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine for his guilty plea to the hate crime charge. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.  

The investigation is being conducted by the ATF, the Plano Police Department, and the Frisco Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Batson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division.

Topic(s): 
Hate Crimes
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