Biddeford Man Sentenced for Federal Hate Crime Convictions
PORTLAND, Maine: A Biddeford man was sentenced in federal court in Portland for his role in a series of racially motivated assaults against black men in Maine, U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced Maurice Diggins, 36, to 10 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. On March 10, 2020, following a three-day trial, a jury convicted Diggins of conspiring to commit hate crimes and of actually committing hate crimes.
“The defendant committed a series of unprovoked violent attacks on innocent men because of those men’s race,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “Today’s sentence, and the jury’s previous verdict in this case, demonstrate that the legal system will not tolerate such acts of racist violence. The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute race-based violations of our federal civil rights laws.”
“In addition to doing grievous harm to individuals, hate crimes engender fear in communities,” said U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank of the District of Maine. “Violence has no place in Maine, and that is especially true of violence that is motivated by hate. Maine citizens, regardless of skin color, ethnicity, or sexual orientation have a right to live their lives free of harassment, much less physical violence. Today’s sentencing should make clear that we have no tolerance for hate crimes. I would like to thank the victims for their courage to confront their assailant, and our law enforcement officers at both the state and federal level who helped prosecute this important case.”
“Mr. Diggins’ actions were cowardly and racially motivated. It is our hope that today’s sentence will help his victims and their families with the healing process while also making it crystal clear that we will not stand for violence, especially borne from hate,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Rest assured, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue anyone who commits these violent acts to ensure the civil rights of all Americans are protected.”
According to evidence presented at trial, on April 15, 2018, defendant Diggins and his nephew, Dusty Leo (who previously pleaded guilty in connection with this case), committed two separate racially motivated assaults, one in Portland and one in Biddeford. In the Portland assault, which occurred just before 1:00 a.m., Diggins attacked a black Sudanese male without provocation, breaking the victim’s jaw. During that same incident, Diggins and Leo assaulted another black man who was standing nearby. Witnesses heard Diggins and Leo using racial epithets during the incidents.
In the second incident, which occurred approximately an hour later and approximately 20 miles away in Biddeford, defendant Diggins and Leo drove in Leo’s truck into the 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 him in the jaw, knocking him to the ground. The unprovoked attack broke the victim’s jaw in several places.
The Biddeford Police Department and the FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheila Sawyer and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Tim Visser prosecuted the case.