Two Puerto Rican Men Sentenced for Federal Hate Crime Against a Latina Transgender Woman and Obstruction of Justice Charges
Dustin I. Nix, 21, of Donaldson, Ark., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Hot Springs, Ark., to two federal civil rights charges for his role in a conspiracy to force a woman and her young children from their home in Donaldson because she associated with African Americans. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Nix faces up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
According to documents filed in court, Nix admitted that on June 15, 2008, he conspired with others to force the victims to leave Donaldson because they associated with African Americans. Specifically, Nix and the others agreed to construct a cross and burn it in front of the victims’ home. Nix physically assisted in constructing the cross. On June 21, 2008, Nix and others erected the cross in front of the victims’ home and attempted to set it on fire. Nix admitted that he understood that the purpose of burning the cross was to threaten and intimidate the victims, and that it was not intended as a joke or prank.
"Living in one’s home and associating with individuals of one’s choosing, without intimidation because of race, is a core right of all persons in this country," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The defendant used threats of violence against innocent victims because of his racial prejudice. This is illegal and despicable, and we will prosecute such crimes whenever and wherever they occur."
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the interference with the right of individuals to live in the home and community of their choosing without discrimination and intimidation based on race. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights prosecutions.
Agents from the FBI’s Little Rock Division investigated this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Quinn for the Western District of Arkansas and Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Benjamin Hawk of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.