EDMONDS MAN PLEADS GUILTY IN CROSS BURNING INCIDENT; ASSOCIATES INDICTED FOR LYING TO FEDERAL GRAND JURY
COLLIN PATRICK SARGENT, 19, of Edmonds, Washington, pleaded guilty July 19, 2005 to federal civil rights charges for burning a cross at the home of an Arab-American family in Edmonds, Washington, in July 2004. SARGENT admitted that he helped construct the approximately five foot tall wooden cross, drove it to the victim's residence, helped set it up, and ignited the cross after it was doused with a flammable liquid.
Today, JAYSON RUSSELL, 19, of Snohomish, Washington, and JOSEPH LIN, 18, of Lynnwood, Washington, were indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Make False Statements to a Grand Jury Investigation and two counts of False Declaration Before a Grand Jury. According to the indictment, both men discussed a misleading story they would tell the grand jury indicating that they did not participate in the cross burning. RUSSELL told jurors that he had left SARGENT's house before the cross burning occurred and went to a gas station. RUSSELL claimed he had later attempted to call the victim and alert him to the burning cross after "driving by" and noticing the flames. LIN claimed he did not know anything about the cross burning until a week after it happened. In fact, according to the indictment, both men were present during the cross burning and RUSSELL attempted to call the victim, and later called the victim's girlfriend, to report the cross burning.
Conspiracy to Make False Statements to a Grand Jury is punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. False Declaration Before a Grand Jury is punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In pleading guilty to a one-count criminal Information charging Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights by interfering with the right to housing because of race, color, or national origin, SARGENT faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
"All Americans are entitled to live in peace wherever they choose, free from intimidation because of their race or national origin," said Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "As the prosecution of this case demonstrates, the Justice Department will not turn a blind eye to these criminal acts of hate."
"Particularly during these times of international tension, it is important that all our citizens know that crimes of racial hatred will be aggressively prosecuted," said United States Attorney John McKay. "And these additional indictments demonstrate that we will not tolerate attempts to subvert our grand jury system with false and misleading testimony."
Prosecuting the perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes remains a top priority of the Justice Department. Since 2001, the Civil Rights Division has charged 129 defendants in 83 cases of bias-motivated crimes.
An indictment contains allegations that have not been proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate the matter. The Criminal Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney's Office are jointly prosecuting the case. Assistant United States Attorney Bruce F. Miyake is prosecuting the case.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, at (206) 553-4110.