FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
MARCH 16, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FORMER HAGERSTOWN POLICE OFFICER JEFFREY SHIFLER
SENTENCED ON CIVIL RIGHTS CHARGES
Defendant Threatened African American Hagerstown High School Students and
City Council Member While Serving as a Boonsboro Police Officer
BALTIMORE, Maryland - U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz today sentenced Jeffrey Shifler, age 42, of Maugansville, Maryland, to 51 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for interference with attendance at public schools and interference with housing, in connection with threats he made against African American students at two Hagerstown high schools, and against an African American Hagerstown City Council member, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Wan J. Kim.
“Jeffrey Shifler terrorized individual victims and threatened an entire community. Thanks to extraordinary work by the FBI, Jeffrey Shifler's campaign of hatred was brought to an end and he has been held accountable for his crimes," stated United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “We will vigorously investigate and prosecute hate crimes and make certain that the criminals who commit them are punished.”
“Criminal acts of racial bigotry have no place in our welcoming society,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the federal laws prohibiting hate crimes.”
According to his plea agreement, Shifler was a police officer with the Hagerstown Police Department for about 16 years. On November 3, 2003, Shifler was terminated for cause. Shifler became employed as a police officer with the Boonsboro Police Department.
On November 29, 2005, Shifler anonymously called the Washington County Board of Education and stated, “There are two guns at North [Hagerstown] High and two guns at South [Hagerstown] High,” and followed with a violent racial threat. The schools were locked down, limiting access into and out of the schools as well as student and staff mobility within the schools, resulting in substantial interference with public school operations.
On January 9, 2006, Shifler anonymously called North Hagerstown High School and falsely reported that there were guns in the school. On January 10, 2006, Shifler anonymously called South Hagerstown High School, threatening to take African-American hostages and kill them. On January 24, 2006, Shifler anonymously called E. Russell Hicks Middle School in Hagerstown and stated, “David and Jimmy have a .22 in their locker and are going to use it on teachers, then they are going to go to Western Heights [Middle School] and use it on Rupenthal [the school principal],” or words to that effect. On all three occasions, the schools were locked down, resulting in substantial interference with public educational operations.
Shifler further admitted that on January 31, 2006, he anonymously called the home of Hagerstown City Council member Alesia Parson-McBean, stating in part “We’re the KKK. We’re about to take you down and burn your house.” Ms. Parson-McBean contacted “911” for emergency assistance.
In 2004 and 2005, Alesia Parson-McBean and her supporters who are members of the African-American community in Hagerstown, received anonymous, racially charged letters from Shifler. The letters, one of which was written on photocopied Hagerstown Department of Police letterhead, threatened harm to Ms. Parson-McBean and her supporters if she did not withdraw from the City Council election.
United States Attorney Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Kim commended the investigative work performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Kim thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning, and Senior Litigation Counsels Mark Blumberg and Deputy Chief Bobbie Bernstein of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, who prosecuted the case.