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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
California Couple Sentenced for Their Role in Hate-motivated Beating

WASHINGTON – Today in Sacramento, Calif., U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez sentenced a couple from Fairfield, Calif., for their roles in a July 2007 beating of an American citizen who is originally from India, announced the Department of Justice. Judge Mendez sentenced Joseph Silva, 56, and his wife, Georgia Silva, 52, to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised released.

At the March 2010 trial, the jury heard that the victim was attempting to enjoy El Dorado Beach on Lake Tahoe, Calif., when the Silvas confronted and attacked him. The evidence showed that Georgia Silva initially hurled derogatory racial and ethnic slurs at the victim and his then girlfriend. When the victim called the police, Georgia Silva assaulted the victim, knocking him to the ground. At the trial, the jury heard a recording of the call made by the victim to the police and statements the Silvas were making to the victim.

After knocking the victim to the ground, and while Georgia Silva was on top of the victim, her husband kicked the victim in the head. The attack caused fractures to bones in the victim’s face and he was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. Witnesses to the incident recounted that Georgia Silva also insulted and attempt to spit upon another man of Indian descent.

"This case demonstrates that hate-motivated violence has no place in twenty-first century America, and such crimes will be vigorously prosecuted and punished," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Americans of all races, colors, and ethnicities should feel free to use public parks and facilities without fear of intimidation and violence."

"Bias motivated violence has no place in our society. Vigorously enforcing federal hate crime laws is among the highest priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice," said Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. "We will protect the rights of all persons in this richly diverse community to avail themselves of public facilities without fear of hate mongers and racists."

The case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Christopher Campion with the assistance of Special Agent Brad J. Bilderback. Officer Rhett Gann of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department also assisted in the investigation and testified at the trial.

The case was prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn K. Delaney and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys C. Douglas Kern and Michael J. Frank.

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