Tennessee Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime for Cross Burning
Timothy Stafford, 41, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Nashville, Tenn., for his role in the April 30, 2012, cross burning in front of an interracial family’s home in Minor Hill, Tenn., the Department of Justice announced.
Stafford pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to threaten, intimidate and interfere with an interracial couple’s enjoyment of their housing rights. Stafford admitted in court that on the night of April 30, 2012, he and two other individuals devised a plan to burn a cross in the yard of an interracial couple in Minor Hill, Tenn.. Stafford constructed a wooden cross in a workshop behind his house. Stafford and his co-conspirators then purchased diesel fuel and covered the cross in diesel fuel-soaked cloth. Stafford then drove his conspirators and the cross to the victims’ residence. Upon arriving at the residence, the other conspirators placed the cross in the driveway and ignited it. Stafford and the conspirators chose to burn the cross at the victims’ house, because of their race, as well as the race of their child. Stafford admitted to targeting the interracial couple because he did not want interracial dating in his community.
Ivan “Rusty” London IV, 21, of Lexington, Ky., previously pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy, and is currently awaiting sentencing.
“Hate motivated crimes will not be tolerated in our country,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute individuals that violate the rights of others because of race.”
“The right to live in a community of your choosing, free of acts of intimidation that are meant to inspire fear, is a fundamental right in the United States,” said David Rivera, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. “The Department of Justice takes these transgressions very seriously and to the extent that individuals interfere with fundamental civil rights, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Timothy Stafford faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison. Ivan London faces a statutory maximum of 5 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the Columbia, Tenn., Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Blanche Cook of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Jared Fishman of the Civil Rights Division.