Skip to main content
Press Release

Indianapolis man sentenced for making racially motivated threats toward neighbor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis man was sentenced today to 46 months in prison and 3 years supervised release for violations of the criminal provision of the Fair Housing Act, and for unlawfully possessing firearms.

Shepherd Hoehn, 51, had previously pleaded guilty to these charges on February 12, 2021. According to court documents and statements made during the hearing, on June 18, 2020, a construction crew began working at the direction of Hoehn’s neighbor to remove a tree from the neighbor’s property. Upon learning of the tree removal, Hoehn became angry and took several steps to threaten, intimidate, and interfere with his neighbor and the construction workers. Specifically, Hoehn placed and burned a cross above the fence line facing his neighbor’s property; created and displayed a swastika on the outer side of his fence, facing his neighbor’s property; created and displayed a large sign containing a variety of anti-Black racial slurs next to the swastika; visibly displayed a machete near the sign with the racial slurs; loudly played the song “Dixie” on repeat; and threw eggs at his neighbor’s house. On July 1, 2020, the FBI executed a federal search warrant at Hoehn’s home. During the search, several firearms and drug paraphernalia were located.

“Today, Mr. Hoehn was held responsible for his vile conduct,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress. “We are a diverse nation, bound together by shared values and beliefs.  We are also a nation of laws. Those like Mr. Hoehn who would betray our shared values and beliefs through behavior such as this rightly suffer the penalties our laws prescribe.” 

“Incidents of harassment and intimidation such as this are intended to create fear and this sentence clearly shows targeting someone based on race, sexual identity or religious beliefs will not be tolerated,”  said Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan of the FBI Indianapolis Division. “Crimes motivated by bias will continue to be investigated by the FBI and our law enforcement partners, and perpetrators held responsible for their actions.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Lawrence Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Brad Shepard of the Southern District of Indiana and Trial Attorney Katherine DeVar of the Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

For more information and resources on the department’s efforts to combat hate crimes, visit If you believe you have been a victim of a civil rights violation, please visit: to file a report. Individuals can also call the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Indiana Civil Rights Coordinator, Jeffrey D. Preston, at 317-226-6333, or the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in Washington D.C. at 855-856-1247 (toll free).

Individuals who believe they are the victim of a criminal violation of their civil rights, such as misconduct by law enforcement officers, a hate crime, or human trafficking, should contact their local FBI office.

Updated June 28, 2021

Civil Rights
Hate Crimes