Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Cross Burning
WASHINGTON – Bruce Mikulyuk, 50, of Mishawaka, Ind., pleaded guilty today to interfering with the housing rights of a white woman and an African American man by burning a cross in their yard and later returning with a knife and threatening the man if he did not leave, the Justice Department announced.
According to the plea agreement filed with the court, Mikulyuk used racial slurs and threatened the male victim on Sept. 27, 2007. Later that evening, Mikulyuk built a cross, took it to the victims’ home and set it on fire several feet from the home while the victims and two young children were inside. Mikulyuk later returned with a hunting-style knife and again threatened the male victim. Mikulyuk admitted that he burned the cross and threatened the victims because of race in order to intimidate them and interfere with their housing rights.
The defendant will be sentenced on Dec. 22, 2009.
"The defendant used a burning cross, an unmistakable and despicable symbol of hatred, to intimidate the victims because of their race. These crimes have no place in America," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will continue to prosecute this type of illegal and hateful behavior."
Mikulyuk is the third Indiana man to plead guilty to a cross burning in the past two weeks. Richard LaShure and Aaron Latham, both from Muncie, Ind., pleaded guilty on Sept. 24 to charges of interference with housing rights and conspiracy against rights for burning a cross in the yard of an African American family in July 2008.
The guilty plea results from an investigation by Special Agent Art Grist from the Merrillville Field Office of the FBI and Betsy Biffl from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.