FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
EIGHT MONTANA SKINHEADS SENTENCED FOR CIVIL RIGHTS CRIMES
WASHINGTON, D.C. - - Six members of a skinhead group known as the Montana Front Working Class Skinheads were sentenced to prison terms yesterday following their convictions at trial on federal civil rights charges. Two additional members of the skinhead group who cooperated with the federal investigation and testified for the prosecution at the trial of the six were sentenced today, the Department of Justice announced.
Six men were charged with conspiracy to interfere with the rights of minorities to use public parks in Billings, Montana. Five were also charged with inciting or participating in an attack on an African-American man, an Hispanic woman and a Hispanic man in Pioneer Park in Billings, Montana on July 29, 2000. In that attack, the skinheads chased the victims out of the park while yelling racial slurs and threatening the victims with clubs, chains, bats and metal bars.
Defendants Sean Allen and Eric Dixon, two of the leaders of the skinhead group, were each sentenced to ten years in prison. Jeremiah Skidmore, another leader of the group, was sentenced to 100 months imprisonment. Jason Potter, one of the July 29 attackers, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Two other participants in the park attack, Michael Flom and Ryan Flaherty, were sentenced to 41 months and 37 months incarceration, respectively.
The two cooperating skinheads, Thomas Edelman and Jeremiah Johnson, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and attacks on minorities, including the July 29 attack. They were sentenced to 34 months imprisonment.
"These convictions and sentences send a strong message that acts of violence based on race and national origin have no place in our society," said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously pursue and prosecute those who commit crimes because of the color of a person's skin."
This case was investigated by the Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force (BSSSTF). The BSSSTF is an FBI-sponsored task force comprised of officers from Billings Police Department and the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office and agents from the Billings Resident Agency of the FBI. The case was prosecuted by the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, in cooperation with the United States Attorney's Office.