Justin Hanson, 21, of Mason City, Iowa, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids to violating the civil rights of an African-American family.
In a plea agreement, Hanson admitted that on May 9, 2008, he placed a racially offensive sign in the yard of a neighboring African-American family and the next day he fired a B.B. gun into the victims’ home, breaking a bedroom window. By placing the sign and firing upon his victims, Hanson was attempting to injure, intimidate or interfere with the family’s enjoyment of their home. Hanson admitted he placed the sign in the yard and fired upon the house because of his neighbors’ race and because they were living in his "white" neighborhood, town and country.
Sentencing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade has been set for July 16, 2009. Hanson was convicted of one count of interfering with housing rights and faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Mason City Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department Civil Rights Trial Attorney Kevonne Small and Assistant U.S. Attorney Forde Fairchild.