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Man Sentenced for Conspiring to Burn Home of
African-American Family in Taylor, Michigan

WASHINGTON – Ricky Cotton of Taylor, Mich., was sentenced yesterday to 78 months in prison for conspiring to violate the civil rights of an African-American family in Taylor.

On July 28, 2002, Cotton and several associates conspired to burn the home of an African-American family because they did not want the family living in their neighborhood. Cotton’s co-conspirators eventually broke a window in the family’s home, poured in a flammable substance, and lit the substance on fire.

“The actions of the conspirators in this case were despicable and intolerable,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department takes very seriously violent crimes bred of ignorance and hatred, and we will vigorously prosecute those who violate the civil rights of our fellow Americans.”

Wayland Mullins, one of Cotton’s co-conspirators, was convicted by a jury on April 20, 2007, for conspiring to violate the family’s civil rights; for violating the civil rights of the family; for using fire in the commission of a felony; and for conspiring to obstruct justice. Mullins is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 23, 2007.

Michael Richardson, another conspirator, pleaded guilty on Sept. 21, 2006, to participating in the conspiracy to burn the house; to violating the family’s federally protected housing rights; to using fire in the commission of a felony; and to conspiring to obstruct justice. Richardson is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 6, 2007.

The guilty plea resulted from an investigation by the Taylor Police Department and the Detroit Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Hurley from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Trial Attorney Michael Khoury from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted the case.