Two Spring Hill, Tenn., men pleaded guilty in federal court today for their involvement in a racially-motivated conspiracy to interfere with the housing rights of African-American residents of the Spring Lake subdivision of Spring Hill, the Justice Department announced. Dakota James Calderhead, 20, and Kristian Chancellor Mathis, 19, each pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn., to one count of conspiracy to deprive a person of his civil rights.
According to their plea agreements, on or about December 30, 2011, Calderhead and Mathis conspired to vandalize homes in the Spring Lake subdivision. Mathis admitted to spray painting a swastika and racial slurs on the driveway of an African-American family’s residence.
Calderhead admitted that he fashioned a noose which Mathis hung from a tree outside of the residence. Calderhead also admitted to hanging a second noose from the driver’s side rearview mirror of the school bus located in front of another African-American family’s residence. Both defendants further admitted that their acts of vandalism were intimidating, and motivated, in part, by the race, color, or ethnicity of the victims.
“These innocent families were targeted and subjected to acts of harassment and intimidation for no other reason than their race,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy L. Austin Jr. of the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce federal laws that guarantee the civil rights of all people.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners remain committed to protecting the civil rights of all persons,” said David Rivera, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. “Conduct which seeks to deprive any person of their civil rights will always receive the full attention of this office.”
The defendants face maximum statutory penalties of 10 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Todd J. Campbell has scheduled sentencing for August 21, 2013.
This case was investigated by the Memphis Division, Columbia Resident Agency of the FBI and the Maury County Sherriff’s Department. It is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Ryan Murguía of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal McDonough of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee. Assistance was provided by District Attorney Mike Bottoms from the 22nd Judicial District of Tennessee.