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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Friday, January 4, 2013

Final Three Conspirators Sentenced For Civil Rights Violation

Used a Noose to Hang a Dead Raccoon on a Family’s Porch

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced James Nowicki, age 29, of Baltimore, today to five months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, with five months of the supervised released to be served as home detention, for conspiring to deprive a person of civil rights and violating the Fair Housing Act, in connection with his involvement in hanging a raccoon on the porch of a family from Africa. Judge Hollander also sentenced Dena Whedbee, age 43, to seven months of home detention as part of two years probation, and sentenced her daughter Brittany Whedbee, age 21, today to six months of home detention. Judge Hollander also ordered the Whedbees, both of Baltimore, to each perform 100 hours of community service for their involvement in the conspiracy.

The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein: Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division; and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to their plea agreements, Nowicki conspired with Dena and Brittany Whedbee, Joshua Wall and Billy Pratt to hang a dead raccoon from a noose on the porch of an African family, in order to frighten the family and interfere with their housing rights. Dena and Brittany Whedbee encouraged their co-conspirators to hang the raccoon on the family’s porch. On April 29, 2010, Nowicki and Dena Whedbee found a dead raccoon and gave Wall a rope to make a noose. Later that night, Pratt acted as a look-out while Nowicki and Wall hung the raccoon on the porch of the home.

Billy Ray Pratt, age 24, of Halethorpe, Maryland and Joshua Wall, age 21, of Essex, Maryland, previously pled guilty to their involvement in the conspiracy, and both were sentenced to four months in prison.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney AeJean Cha of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant United States Attorney P. Michael Cunningham, who prosecuted the case.



Updated March 8, 2016