WASHINGTON – Keith W. Cotter was sentenced on Tuesday in federal court in Salt Lake City to 42 months imprisonment on federal hate crime charges. After release from prison, Cotter will be on federal supervised release for 3 years.
“The actions of the defendants in this case were despicable and intolerable,” said Rena J. Comisac, Acting 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.” On Nov. 2, 2005, a federal grand jury indicted Cotter and two other men, Robby W. Baalman and David Gardner, for participating in a race-motivated assault on an African-American Salt Lake City resident on March 12, 2005. During the assault, which occurred as the victim was riding his bike to work, the victim was kicked and struck by the defendants, including being struck in the head with a beer bottle. Cotter, a former member of the National Alliance, a white-supremacist group, pleaded guilty to this offense and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities investigating this and other race-motivated crimes of violence in the Salt Lake City area. Cotter’s codefendants, Gardner and Baalman, also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 105 and 57 months of imprisonment respectively.
In April 2007, Cotter testified at the trial in which fellow former National Alliance members Shaun Walker, Travis Massey and Eric Egbert were convicted of conspiring to commit and participating in race-motivated assaults in the Salt Lake City area between December 2002 and March 2003. Walker has been sentenced to 87 months imprisonment and Egbert to 42 months imprisonment. Massey is scheduled to be sentenced on September 18, 2007.
In announcing Cotter’s sentencing, Acting Assistant Attorney General Comisac commended the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah, the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and the Salt Lake City Police Department for their involvement in this prosecution.