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Two Illinois Men Indicted on Federal Hate Crime

WASHINGTON - Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Grace Chung Becker and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois A. Courtney Cox announced today that Joseph L. Brown of Collinsville, Ill., and William Charles Bowen of O'Fallon, Ill., were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to drive an African-American couple out of their home, and for vandalizing that home with racist graffiti. Brown is also charged with making false statements to a federal investigator.

According to the indictment, on the evening of March 29, 2003, while at a party, Brown and Bowen came up with a plan to try to drive the victims out of their home because Brown and Bowen did not want African-Americans living in Brown’s neighborhood. Brown offered Bowen marijuana in exchange for Bowen painting the racist graffiti on the home of the victims, and Bowen agreed to do so. It is alleged that Bowen then vandalized the home.

If convicted, Brown faces a maximum punishment of 16 years of imprisonment, and Bowen faces a maximum punishment of 11 years of imprisonment.

FBI Special Agent Rick Crouse investigated this case. The case will be prosecuted by Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein and Trial Attorney Evan Rikhye from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Angi Scott from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.