Kansas Men Sentenced for Roles in Federal Hate Crime Against Black Somali Men
Armando Sotelo, 24, was sentenced to two years of supervised release today for a hate crime offense arising from his assault of a black Somali man on June 19, 2015, in Dodge City, Kansas. Omar Cantero Martinez, 32, was sentenced to 26 months imprisonment and two years of supervised release today for committing perjury during a hate crimes prosecution arising from the same assault. Martinez also pleaded guilty today to an illegal reentry charge.
On November 29, 2016, Sotelo pleaded guilty to one count of a hate crime violation. During his plea hearing, he admitted that he assaulted the victim, identified as M.H.D., because of M.H.D.’s race and national origin. Sotelo admitted that he and two other men approached M.H.D., who is black and from Somalia, while M.H.D. was sitting on a bench with two other Somali men outside an African market. The defendant approached the bench from one side, while the two men with him approached the bench from the other. Sotelo and the others all yelled racial and anti-Somali slurs at M.H.D. and the two other Somali men on the bench. The defendant then punched M.H.D. in the head without any justification, causing M.H.D. bodily injury. Following the assault, Sotelo fled the scene and directed another person to wash his clothing, which was bloody from the assault.
Also on November 29, 2016, Martinez pleaded guilty to one count of perjury for providing materially false testimony during an October 2016 federal criminal jury trial related to the hate crime assault. During his plea hearing, Martinez admitted that on the night of June 19, 2015, he had used a broken glass bottle to stab victim S.A.M. and slash victim A.M.A. without justification. Martinez also admitted that racial and anti-Somali slurs were used during the attack and that he and Sotelo instigated the attack. He further admitted that he provided false testimony about the incident during a federal jury trial in which he and Sotelo were charged with hate crimes offenses for the attack; that he knew his testimony was false at the time that he gave it; and that his false testimony was material to the hate crimes charges.
“Hate violence not only harms individuals but also threatens the diversity of our society and the well-being of our communities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “In this case, Sotelo attacked the victim because of the color of his skin and his country of origin, inflicting bodily injury during the assault. Martinez participated in the assault and lied about it to a federal jury. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes so that all people can live their lives with the security, protection and freedom they deserve.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Garden City Resident Agency with assistance from the Dodge City Police Department and the Ford County, Kansas, Sheriff’s Department. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Risa Berkower and Special Litigation Counsel Jared Fishman of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Furst of the District of Kansas.