FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2005
TDD (202) 514-1888
TWO MEN CONVICTED FOR CRIMINAL INTERFERENCE WITH HOUSING RIGHTS
WASHINGTON, DC - The Justice Department today announced the convictions by a jury of two North Carolina men for conspiring to drive an African-American family out of an all-white neighborhood. Specifically, Chase Hobbs and Jeremy Kratzer were found guilty of conspiring to interfere with the housing rights of Deborah Edwards and her children.
“Racially motivated crimes such as these are ugly and hateful, and will not be tolerated,” said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Those who persist in racially motivated criminal interference with a family’s right to live in the home of their choosing will pay the price.”
According to the evidence introduced to the jury, the Edwards family moved to the previously all-white Nine Mile neighborhood of Richlands, North Carolina in March 1999. Immediately thereafter, they were the victims of a series of racially harassing incidents: a cross was burned on their property, a noose was hung from their doorknob, and a dead raccoon was thrown on their front yard. Sentencing is set for July 5, 2005.
Previously, Hancock and a juvenile pleaded guilty to similar charges for their roles in the conspiracy. Hancock was sentenced today to six months home confinement and three years probation. Chance Hobbs, the defendant’s brother, previously pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of this matter. He was also sentenced today, and received the same sentence as Hancock.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this matter, with the assistance of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. The Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Prosecuting the perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes remains a top priority of the Justice Department. Since 2001, the Civil Rights Division has charged 128 defendants in 82 cases of bias-motivated crime.