WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury indicted three men in Albuquerque, N.M., on federal hate crime charges related to a racially-motivated assault of a 22-year-old man of Navajo descent who has a significant cognitive impairment.
Paul Beebe, 27, William Hatch, 29, and Jesse Sanford, 25, all of Farmington, N.M., have been charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that was enacted in October 2009. More specifically, the indictment alleges that the defendants branded the victim by heating a wire hanger on a stove and burning the victim’s flesh, causing a permanent swastika-shaped scar on his arm. It is alleged that as part of the plan and purpose of their conspiracy, the defendants further defaced the victim’s body with white supremacist and anti-Native American symbols, including shaving a swastika in the back of the victim’s head and using marker to write the words "KKK" and "White Power" within the lines of the swastika. The indictment also alleges that the defendants took advantage of the victim’s developmental disability to induce him to make a cell phone video in which he purportedly consents to the branding.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Albuquerque Division in cooperation with the Farmington Police Department and the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto D. Ortega for the District of New Mexico and Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Fara Gold of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.