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Friday, August 22, 2008
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California Man Sentenced on Federal Civil Rights Crime for Race-Motivated Threats

WASHINGTON Bradley Smith, of Modesto, Calif., was sentenced today to 78 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release, for a series of race-motivated threats against an African-American man and his family. In addition to his sentence, Smith was ordered to pay a $200 special penalty assessment. On May 19, 2008, a jury convicted Smith of race-based interference with the victim’s federally protected housing rights. Smith also was convicted of a second felony offense for providing a false statement to an agent of the FBI.

The evidence at trial showed that between June 2005 and May 2007, shortly after the victim moved to the Central Valley city of Modesto, the defendant engaged in a campaign of racial intimidation that was intended to drive the victim from his home. Smith and the victim were frequent citizens-band (CB) radio listeners and many of Smith’s threats were made via CB broadcasts that were overheard by other Modesto-area CB participants.

The defendant’s threats included racial slurs and threats to burn a cross on the victim’s lawn, firebomb the victim’s house, and hang the victim from a tree while sexually assaulting the victim’s wife. In addition, local police had to intervene on at least one occasion in which the defendant went to the victim’s home with a group of approximately six people in at least three vehicles. As a result of the defendant’s conduct, the victim testified that he eventually moved from the Modesto area to another community in California’s Central Valley.


"The Fair Housing Act ensures that we can live in our homes without having to tolerate violent threats of racial intimidation," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

"Hate and intolerance tear at the very fabric of our great nation—a fabric that is strengthened by its diversity of races, religions and national origins."

"The jury’s verdict stands as an unequivocal statement from the Central Valley community that hate-motivated statements will not be tolerated," said McGregor Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Civil Rights enforcement is a top priority of the Justice Department. Since 2001, the Civil Rights Division has charged 191 defendants in 129 cases of bias-motivated crimes.

This case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Kenneth Tam and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, and Trial Attorneys C. Douglas Kern and Karen Ruckert from the Civil Rights Division.