A Maine man was sentenced today to three years in prison, along with three years of supervised release and restitution, for his role in committing and conspiring to commit a federal hate crime, the Justice Department announced.
Dusty Leo, 30, of Biddeford, Maine, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit a hate crime and of actually committing a hate crime on Feb. 25, 2020.
Following a three-day trial in March 2020, a jury convicted Leo’s co-conspirator and uncle, Maurice Diggins, of conspiring to commit and committing a series of racially motivated assaults against Black men in Maine. For his convictions, Diggins was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
“The defendant violently attacked a Black man for no reason other than his race,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentencing marks the final chapter in the long road to justice for the victims of these violent, racially-motivated crimes. The Department of Justice will continue to use the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and every tool at our disposal, to vindicate the rights of victims of hate crimes, and will continue to investigate and prosecute these acts wherever they occur.”
“The crimes committed by Mr. Leo and his co-conspirator injured and traumatized their victims, and also traumatized the communities in which they occurred,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Donald E. Clark for the District of Maine. “No one should be targeted for violence because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity. Crimes like this tear at the very fabric of our society. This prosecution makes clear that individuals who commit hate-motivated crimes will be made to pay for their actions. I am proud of the investigators and prosecutors who tirelessly pursued this case, and so appreciative of the victims, who courageously confronted Mr. Leo's co-defendant at trial.”
“Today’s sentence should make it crystal clear that those who traffic in hate, targeting people in our community because of their skin color, will be held accountable for their horrific, violent crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta of the FBI Boston Field Office. “No one should be afraid to walk down the street and be targeted by an act of violence based on how they look, where they are from, or any part of their identity. The FBI would like to thank the brave victims in this case for their courage in coming forward to ensure that Dusty Leo, and his uncle did not escape justice, and we’d like to encourage other victims of hate crimes to do the same. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, and everyone deserves a voice.”
According to Leo’s guilty plea and evidence presented at Diggins’s trial, on April 15, 2018, Diggins attacked a Sudanese man without provocation outside of a bar in Portland, Maine. The assault, which broke the victim’s jaw, was immediately followed by an attack on another Black man who was standing on the street nearby.
In a second incident, which occurred approximately an hour later and approximately 20 miles away in Biddeford, co-conspirators Diggins and Leo drove in Leo’s truck into a parking lot of a convenience store, where Diggins got out of the truck and approached a Black man who was walking toward the store’s entrance. Diggins directed a racial slur at the man and distracted him while Leo got out of the truck and sucker-punched the victim in the jaw, knocking him to the ground. The unprovoked attack broke the victim’s jaw in several places.
Leo was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen. The Biddeford Police Department and the FBI investigated the case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheila Sawyer and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Tim Visser.