Two Conspirators Plead Guilty to Civil Rights Violation

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

June 26, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - Dena Whedbee, age 42, and her daughter Brittany Whedbee, age 20, both of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to their 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 pleas were 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.

According to their plea agreements, Dena and Brittany Whedbee conspired with Joshua Wall, Billy Pratt, and another co-conspirator 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. Dena Whedbee admitted that she and another co-conspirator found the dead raccoon. Wall, Pratt, and the other conspirator hung the raccoon on the porch of the home in the middle of the night of April 29, 2010. Both Dena and Brittany Whedbee also admitted that they encouraged their co-conspirators to hang the raccoon on the family’s porch.

The investigation is ongoing.

Dena and Brittany Whedbee each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to deprive a person of civil rights and one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for violating the Fair Housing Act. They U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for December 14, 2012.

Billy Pratt, age 24, of Baltimore, Md., and Joshua Wall, age 20, of Essex, Md., previously pled guilty for their involvement in the conspiracy. Their sentencings are scheduled for August 17, 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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