WASHINGTON – A Fairfield, Calif., couple was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Sacramento, Calif., on federal civil rights charges related to an alleged bias-motivated assault on an Indian-American couple, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence G. Brown for the Eastern District of California.
The two-count indictment alleges that on the evening of July 14, 2007, Joseph and Georgia Silva committed a bias-motivated assault on another couple at a public beach in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The Silvas allegedly first verbally confronted the Indian-American couple using derogatory racial and ethnic slurs. The Silvas then allegedly assaulted the couple, including striking one of the victims with a shoe and tackling and striking the other repeatedly on the head. One victim suffered significant facial injuries including fractured facial bones.
If convicted of both counts of the indictment, Joseph and Georgia Silva each face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000. An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The FBI’s Sacramento Division is investigating this matter. The case is being jointly prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and Trial Attorney Douglas Kern of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of federal criminal civil rights statutes, including laws that prohibit race-motivated acts of violence that interfere with federally protected activities.