Tennessee Man Indicted for Hate Crime and Lying to the FBI
The Department of Justice today announced that Christopher Beckham, 32, of Nashville, Tennessee, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Tennessee on charges of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and lying to the FBI. Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee made the announcement.
According to the indictment, on or about Oct. 24, 2017, in the Middle District of Tennessee, Beckham saw two teenage girls wearing hijabs and said “Allahu Akbar!” and “Go back to your country!” He then attacked the girls’ father by swinging a knife and punching at him, and shouted derogatory comments at the family. Moreover, according to the indictment, on or about March 12, 2018, Beckham falsely claimed to FBI special agents that he saw the girls trying to break into cars; that he never swung a knife at their father; and that, after he pulled out his knife, the girls yelled “Allahu Akbar!,” and then either one or both of them hit him on the back of the head.
If convicted on the hate crime charge, Beckham faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of making false statements to the FBI provides for a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sara Beth Myers of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorneys Christine M. Siscaretti and Rachel Kincaid of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.