WASHINGTON - Justin Sigler, 19, of Natchitoches, La., pleaded guilty today to conspiring with two other individuals to violate the civil rights of an African-American man in Lena, La., announced Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and Donald W. Washington, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.
“The defendant acknowledged that he dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan in order to threaten an African-American who had recently moved into a house in the neighborhood,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Becker said. “It is shocking and disturbing that the Department of Justice must continue to prosecute this type of criminal conduct in the 21st Century. This successful prosecution should deter others from committing violent hate crimes in the future.”
“The defendant today took responsibility for committing a federal crime by using a powerful symbol of hate to intimidate a new homeowner because of his race,” said U.S. Attorney Washington. “It is a violation of federal law to conspire to intimidate, oppress, injure or threaten a person on account of race and on account of the person exercising and enjoying the rights protected by the laws and Constitution of the United States .”
On July 15, 2007, the victim and his wife moved some of their possessions into a home in Lena. In so doing, they became the only African-American residents on that particular street. On July 16, 2007, Sigler and two other individuals talked about scaring the victim, referring to him with a racial slur. They then fired shotguns at a target on a field adjacent to the victim’s property before one member of the group turned his shotgun away from the target and toward the victim and his house.
The next day, Sigler and the two other individuals agreed to scare the victim again by dressing Sigler as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The three co-conspirators went after nightfall to a field adjacent to the victim’s residence and said, “White Power!” and “White Knights!” The family was shaken by these events, and eventually sold their home.
Sigler faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case, which was prosecuted jointly by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Mudrick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and by Trial Attorney Forrest Christian of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.