WASHINGTON – Bruce Mikulyuk, 50, of Mishawaka, Ind., was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for interfering with the housing rights of a white woman and an African-American man by burning a cross in their yard and later returning with a knife and threatening the man if he did not leave. Mikulyuk pleaded guilty to the offense in October.
According to the plea agreement filed with the court, Mikulyuk used racial slurs and threatened the male victim on Sept. 27, 2007. Later that evening, Mikulyuk built a cross, took it to the victims’ home, and set it on fire several feet from the home while the victims and two young children were in the home. Mikulyuk later returned to the home with a hunting-style knife and again threatened the male victim. Mikulyuk admitted that he burned the cross and threatened the victims in order to intimidate them and interfere with their housing rights because of race.
This is the fourth Indiana man in two months to be sentenced to prison time for burning a cross. Richard LaShure, Richard Logue and Aaron Latham, of Muncie, Ind., were sentenced on Nov. 5, 2009, after pleading guilty to charges of interference with housing rights and conspiracy against rights for burning a cross in the yard of an African-American family in July 2008.
"The burning cross is an unmistakable symbol of hatred with a painful history, and it has no place in this country. Unfortunately, such incidents are all too common," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "Prosecuting hate crimes is a top priority for the Civil Rights Division."
This case was investigated by Special Agent Art Grist from the Merrillville Field Office of the FBI and prosecuted by Betsy Biffl from the Civil Rights Division.