WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Gabriel Doyle Laskey, 22, was sentenced to six months incarceration (with work release), six months home detention, and five years probation for his role in a 2002 rock attack on Temple Beth Israel, in Eugene, Ore., in which a group of men threw stones etched with swastikas through the synagogue’s windows during a religious service. In April of this year, his brother Jacob Laskey, the ringleader of the group, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for charges relating to the attack and his efforts to obstruct justice in the case. Another defendant, Gerald Poundstone, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in September 2006.
According to the plea agreements and statements in federal district court in Eugene, Ore., the Laskey brothers and Poundstone, along with two other men, conspired to intimidate Jewish congregants at the Temple Beth Israel. The men traveled to the synagogue on Oct. 25, 2002, in a vehicle driven by Jacob Laskey. They then threw rocks etched with swastikas through the synagogue’s stained glass windows while 80 members of the temple were inside. After throwing the rocks, the men fled the scene. The Laskey brothers and Poundstone pleaded guilty to various charges including conspiracy to deprive persons of their civil rights and intentional destruction of religious property. Jacob Laskey pleaded guilty to additional charges including obstruction of justice-related charges and a firearms offense.
“Such an attack on peaceful worshipers, using a symbol calculated to instill fear in a particular community, is a heinous act that will not be tolerated,” stated Rena J. Comisac, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to the vigorous enforcement of federal hate crime laws.”
“Prosecuting individuals who seek to harm others because of their religion, race or national origin is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon and the Department of Justice,” stated Karin Immergut, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
The Department of Justice has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights prosecutions in recent years. For example, in the last seven years, the Civil Rights Division brought 41 cross-burning prosecutions and convicted 60 defendants for these heinous crimes. And, in the last two fiscal years, the Division convicted record numbers of defendants for civil rights violations. In fiscal year 2007, the Division convicted 189 defendants, the highest number of defendants ever in the history of the Division, which surpassed last year’s record number of 181 defendants.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William E. (Bud) Fitzgerald and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Roy Conn III. The case was investigated by special agents from the Eugene office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.