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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime for Racially-Motivated Attack on a Black Man

Ocala, FL – Robert Lashley, 52, pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime for attacking a Black man because of his actual and perceived race. 

According to the plea agreement, on Nov. 17, 2021, Lashley traveled to the Family Dollar in Citrus Springs, Florida, where the victim, a Black man, was shopping inside.  Lashley followed the victim outside into the parking lot and then attacked him, striking the victim multiple times.  Lashley and his co-defendant, Roy Lamar Lashley, directed racial slurs towards the victim before, during, and after the attack. The victim sustained injuries to his face and legs, including a laceration to the inside of his mouth. 

“The defendant is being held accountable for subjecting a Black man to a brutal and racially- motivated assault,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Convictions like these make clear that the Department of Justice will continue to investigate and prosecute individuals who violently assault others because of their race. Racially-motivated hate crimes have no place in our society.”

“Acts of violence against anyone because of their race or ethnicity are abhorrent,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that such crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

"Hate crimes are not only an attack on the victim, these crimes threaten and intimidate entire communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sherri E. Onks for the FBI Jacksonville Field Division. “Because of their wide-ranging impact, investigating and preventing hate crimes is a top priority for the FBI and we will stop at nothing to protect the public from these heinous crimes.”

A sentencing hearing has not yet been set. Lashley faces a maximum term of 10 years imprisonment, three years of mandatory supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Lashley was charged in an indictment that was unsealed on June 17, 2022. The indictment charged Lashley and co-defendant Roy Lamar Lashley, each aiding and abetting one another, with willfully causing bodily injury to the victim because of the victim’s actual and perceived race.  The case against the co-defendant Roy Lamar Lashley remains ongoing.

Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Handberg and Special Agent in Charge Onks made the announcement.

The FBI and the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office investigated the matter. Trial Attorneys Maura White and Matthew Tannenbaum of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hamilton of the Middle District of Florida are prosecuting the case. 

For more information and resources about the department’s work to combat hate crimes, visit www.justice.gov/hatecrimes.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Hate Crimes
Component(s): 
Updated October 4, 2022