Final Conspirator Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violation

Used a Noose to Hang a Dead Raccoon on a Family’s Porch

July 30, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - James Nowicki, age 28, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to his involvement in a racially-motivated conspiracy to interfere with an African family’s housing rights by hanging a dead raccoon on the family’s porch.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein: Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division; and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Today the department secured a guilty plea from the fifth and final conspirator in a hateful scheme to intimidate an African family at their own home,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Right.“The Civil Rights Division will continue to aggressively prosecute acts of hate, which have no place in our country.”

According to his plea agreement, Nowicki conspired with Dena and Brittany Whedbee, Joshua Wall and Billy Pratt to hang a dead raccoon from a noose on the porch of a family from Africa, in order to frighten the family and interfere with their housing rights. Nowicki admitted that on April 29, 2010, he and Dena Whedbee found a dead raccoon and gave Wall a rope to make a noose. Nowicki, Wall and Pratt hung the raccoon on the porch of the home later that night.

Nowicki faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiring to deprive a person of civil rights ; and one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for violating the Fair Housing Act. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for January 4, 2013.

Dena Whedbee, age 43, her daughter Brittany Whedbee, age 21, and Billy Pratt, age 24, all of Baltimore, Md., and Joshua Wall, age 21, of Essex, Md., previously pled guilty to their involvement in the conspiracy. The sentencing for Pratt and Wall is scheduled for August 17, 2012. Dena and Brittany Whedbee are scheduled for sentencing on December 14, 2012.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney AeJean Cha of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant United States Attorney P. Michael Cunningham, who are prosecuting the case.

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