Dustin Nix of Donaldson, Ark, was sentenced today in federal court in Fort Smith, Ark, on federal civil rights charges related to a conspiracy to drive a woman and her children from their home because they associated with African-Americans. Nix was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, three years of post-incarceration supervision, a fine of $5,000, and a $200 special assessment.
Nix pleaded guilty on July 10, 2009, to two felony civil rights charges for conspiring to violate, and violating, the civil rights of the victims. In the plea proceedings and documents filed in court, Nix admitted that in June 2008, he conspired with others to force the victims to leave Donaldson because they associated with African-Americans. Specifically, on June 15, 2008, Nix and the others agreed to construct a cross and burn it in front of the victims’ home. Nix was present for and aided in the construction of the cross. Then, on June 21, 2008, Nix and others drove the cross to the victims’ home. Nix and the others erected the cross in front of the victims’ home and attempted to set it on fire. Nix admitted that he understood that the purpose of burning the cross was to threaten and intimidate the victims, and that it was not intended as a joke or prank.
Nix’s co-conspirators, Jacob A. Wingo, Richard W. Robins, Clayton D. Morrison and Darren E. McKim, pleaded guilty in September 2009, for their roles in the conspiracy. Sentencing for Wingo, Robins, Morrison and McKim has been scheduled for Dec. 7, 2009.
"Driven by bigotry and hate, the defendants in this case threatened a young family with violence simply because they associated with persons of another race. Threats of this kind have no place in America," said Assistant Attorney General Perez. "Aggressive prosecution of hate crimes is a top priority for the Civil Rights Division, and the defendant’s conviction should send a message to others who would carry out similar criminal acts that they will be brought to justice."
Special Agents from the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office investigated this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Quinn for the Western District of Arkansas, along with Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Benjamin Hawk of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.