Georgia Resident Indicted on Cross-Burning Charges
Savannah, GA - Gene Hoyt Vandiver, 34, of Richmond Hill, Georgia, was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury sitting in Savannah on charges related to the burning of a cross in his neighbor's yard. Vandiver was charged with one count of interfering with housing rights and with one count of arson. Vandiver had his initial appearance in federal court before United States Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith on October 10, 2013.
According to information presented in court, Vandiver, who is white, allegedly burned a cross in the yard of his neighbor, whom Vandiver believed to be African-American. Vandiver also left a sign in his neighbor’s yard with a racial slur and a hand-drawn picture of a person being lynched.
United States Attorney Edward Tarver stated, "Cross-burning remains a vicious symbol of hate and no one should have to suffer the fear and intimidation caused by such a cruel act. My office will work diligently with our law enforcement partners to prosecute criminal civil rights violations of any form."
The interfering with housing rights charge against Vandiver carries a 10-year maximum prison sentence; the arson charge carries a 10-year consecutive prison sentence. Mr. Tarver emphasized that an indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Richmond Hill Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Tania Groover and Greg Gilluly are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.