WASHINGTON - Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Grace Chung Becker and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Stephen J. Murphy announced today that Curtis M. Gottler of Livonia, Mich., was indicted by a federal grand jury for hate crimes and other charges stemming from threats he allegedly made to a local couple and their real estate agent in an attempt to keep the couple from selling their home to African-Americans. The defendant was also charged with a hate crime and a threat for sending a threatening letter through the U.S. mail to an African-American resident of Livonia.
One count in the indictment charges Gottler with attempting to interfere with the right of the couple to sell their home without discrimination on the basis of race. According to the indictment, on Aug. 24, 2007, Gottler left a handwritten note at the coupleís home indicating that he would track them down and harm them if they sold their home to African-Americans.
Gottler is also charged with one count of attempting to interfere with the real estate agentís right to assist the couple in selling their home without regard to race, and one count of making a threat in interstate commerce. According to the indictment, these charges relate to a threatening e-mail Gottler sent on Sept. 15, 2007, to the real estate agent who was representing the couple in the sale of their home.
Gottler is also charged with two counts stemming from a letter he allegedly sent on June 25, 2007, to an African-American resident of Livonia, in which he threatened to harm the resident if the resident failed to leave Livonia. For this incident, the indictment charges Gottler with one hate crime and one count of sending a threat through the U.S. mail.
If convicted, Gottler faces a maximum punishment of 13 years of imprisonment and a fine of $800,000.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent David Harmon investigated this case. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Thompson from the Eastern District of Michigan, and Trial Attorney Patricia Sumner from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.