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EDMONDS MAN SENTENCED IN CROSS BURNING INCIDENT; ASSOCIATES FACE SENTENCING AFTER ADMITTING THEY LIED TO FEDERAL GRAND JURY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2006

COLLIN PATRICK SARGENT, 19, of Edmonds, Washington was sentenced today to three years of probation, 90 days of electronic home detention, and 200 hours of community service, for Conspiring to Violate Others Civil Rights by 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.

U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly told SARGENT that, “burning a cross is a universal symbol of hate and intimidation. Anybody, of any race, who had a cross burned on their property would feel threatened and fearful.” Judge Zilly noted that burning the cross impacted the wider minority community who read or heard about it. The judge ordered the community service so that SARGENT could give back to all those damaged by this incident.

SARGENT told the court that, “Every day I think back on that night and think why did I do that? Stupidity. Ignorance. I’m sorry I caused the family pain and I wish that I could change that.”

According to court records, SARGENT had a falling out with a young man who lived at the Edmonds home. Another man, a juvenile, suggested the cross burning and some six other young men assisted in the cross burning.

Judge Zilly noted that SARGENT would have been sentenced to prison, but for his assistance to the government in finding all those who were responsible. The person who suggested burning the cross, the juvenile, has been prosecuted in the state system. Two other defendants are being prosecuted federally.

JAYSON RUSSELL, 19, of Snohomish, Washington, and JOSEPH LIN, 18, of Lynnwood, Washington, have pleaded guilty to Making a False Declaration Before a Grand Jury. LIN entered his guilty plea on December 13, 2005 and RUSSELL pleaded guilty on February 1, 2006. According to the plea agreement the men provided false testimony in October, 2004, 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, 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.

False Declaration Before a Grand Jury is punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. LIN is scheduled to be sentenced April 7, 2006, and RUSSELL is scheduled to be sentenced June 2, 2006.

Prosecuting the perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes remains a top priority of the Justice Department. The Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office jointly prosecuted the case.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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