WASHINGTON – Colin Walsh, 19, of Shenandoah, Pa., was sentenced today to 55 months in prison for his role in the fatal beating of Luis Ramirez, the Justice Department announced today. Walsh was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay $550 to the Pennsylvania victim compensation fund, as well as a special assessment.
On April 8, 2009, Walsh pleaded guilty to one felony violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act for his role in aiding and abetting Brandon Piekarsky, 19, and Derrick Donchak, 21, in the beating of Ramirez. Walsh testified against Piekarsky, Donchak and members of the Shenandoah Police Department in two federal trials. On Oct. 14, 2010, a federal jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania found Piekarsky and Donchak guilty of violating the Federal Fair Housing Act for fatally beating Ramirez because he was Latino and because they did not want him living in Shenandoah. On Jan. 27, 2011, a federal jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania found former Shenandoah police officer William Moyer and former Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor guilty of offenses related to the obstruction of the state and federal investigations into the fatal beating.
According to evidence presented at the federal trials, on July 12, 2008, Piekarsky, Donchak and Walsh came upon Ramirez in a park after leaving a community festival. Piekarsky and Donchak, and several of their friends, including Walsh, attacked Ramirez. During the course of the beating, some of the assailants yelled racial epithets in which they repeatedly referred to Ramirez in derogatory racial terms and told him: “this is Shenandoah. This is America. Go back to Mexico.” According to testimony, Donchak beat Ramirez while holding a thick piece of metal identified at trial as a “fist pack.” Walsh punched Ramirez in the face and Piekarsky kicked Ramirez in the head as he lay prone on the ground. After Piekarsky kicked Ramirez, he told a bystander who was married to a Latino man to “tell your Mexican friends to get out of Shenandoah or you will be lying next to him.” After the fight concluded, Ramirez was air-lifted to Geisinger Regional Medical Center, where he died of massive head injuries. The jury also heard evidence that, immediately following the beating, Donchak conspired with members of the Shenandoah Police Department and others to obstruct the investigation of the assault.
“Acts of racially-motivated violence like this one have no place in America. Their occurrence is a reminder that bigotry persists in 2011,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. “The Civil Rights Division will vigorously enforce the rights of every American.”
This case was investigated by special agents from the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and was prosecuted by Myesha Braden and Gerard V. Hogan of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.