WASHINGTON – Michael Bullard, Richard Armstrong and James Whitewater were sentenced today in federal court in Boise, Idaho, for hate crime and conspiracy charges in connection with the racially-motivated assault of an African-American man outside of a Wal-Mart store in July 2008, the Justice Department announced today.
U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge sentenced Bullard, of Middleton, Idaho, to 51 months in prison, three years of supervised release, 80 hours of community service and a $200 special assessment. Armstrong, of Nampa, Idaho, was sentenced to 46 months in prison, three years of supervised release, 80 hours of community service and a $200 special assessment. Whitewater, of Nampa, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment. Bullard, 23, and Armstrong, 24, were convicted by a jury in July 2009. Whitewater, 23, pleaded guilty before trial and testified against the other two defendants.
"Driven by bigotry and hate, the defendants brutally assaulted a man for no other reason than his race. Abhorrent acts of violence such as this have no place in America," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Civil Rights Division. "Aggressive prosecution of hate crimes is a top priority for the Civil Rights Division, and today’s sentences should send a message to others who would carry out similar acts of violence that they will be brought to justice."
Evidence at trial revealed that on July 4, 2008, as the victim, a 24-year-old African-American man, walked out of a Wal-Mart store in Nampa, he was ambushed, chased and beaten by three men who used racial slurs as they carried out the attack. Witnesses testified that Bullard, Armstrong and Whitewater all participated in the assault, while a fourth person, a girlfriend of one of the defendants, held their belongings and cheered them on. The girlfriend, Jennifer Hartpence, was initially charged as a co-defendant, but her case was dismissed before it reached the jury.
After four hours of deliberation, the jury convicted the two remaining defendants of conspiring to violate the federally-protected rights of the victim and of actually violating the victim’s protected rights by engaging in the racially-motivated assault.
U.S.Attorney Tom Moss for the District of Idaho said, "These convictions mean that racial crimes will not be tolerated… not in this Country … not on any day. Idaho, like most other parts of this Nation, has had inglorious moments in its past when people endured oppression and criminal acts merely because of their skin color, race, national origin, gender or religion. We are long past that time. Thanks to the FBI and Nampa PD for their outstanding work in bringing this case forward. The United States Attorney’s Office also thanks the Civil Rights Division of DOJ for its help and collaboration."
"One cannot help but note the irony that the terrible acts of which these two defendants were convicted occurred on the 4th of July, last year," said Timothy J. Fuhrman, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office. "The initial aggressive investigation by Nampa Police Department in this matter led to their indictment and conviction. In this day and age, law enforcement will not tolerate hate crimes. The FBI is committed to investigating these incidents aggressively and without hesitation. The prosecutors from the U.S Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division handled this difficult case with great skill and dedication."
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Nampa Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Erin Aslan.