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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Illinois Man Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violation

WASHINGTON Defendant William Bowen, 25, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to conspiring to violate the civil rights of an African-American couple and their white friend by spray-painting racial threats and epithets on the home where the three victims lived in Collinsville, Ill., announced Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and A. Courtney Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. The defendant, who will be sentenced on Oct. 31, 2008, faces a possible maximum sentence of 11 years imprisonment.

The defendant admitted that he conspired with another person to frighten and intimidate three victims by spray-painting the victims’ home with racial threats. The defendant admitted that the purpose of the conspiracy was to frighten and intimidate the victims because of their race, and to scare them into moving out of the neighborhood where they lived.

Bowen’s co-defendant, Joseph Brown, is scheduled to stand trial later this month on charges of conspiracy, committing a civil rights violation and making a false statement to a federal agent.

"The right of every individual to live peacefully in his or her own home without being terrorized because of race is firmly protected by the laws of the United States," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Divison. "The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute vigorously anyone who engages in this kind of criminal conduct."

This case was investigated by Special Agent Rick Crouse of the Springfield Office of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein and Trial Attorney Kevonne Small of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Angi Scott from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois.