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CINCINNATI – A federal grand jury has charged Samuel Whitt, 41, of Cincinnati, with criminal interference with the right to fair housing and attempted arson.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Office and Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac announced the indictment that was returned yesterday and unsealed today.
The indictment alleges that Whitt destroyed a rental home in Price Hill after being evicted from the property. Whitt and another individual had rented the lower unit of the house from an interracial couple.
According to the indictment, over the Thanksgiving holiday, Whitt broke into the rental home and spray-painted the walls with messages including “die nigger,” “nigger,” and “white power,” as well as images of swastikas. Whitt also splattered paint on walls, stairs and appliances; made holes in the walls; broke banisters; tore carpet; poured quick-drying concrete into the bathroom drains and toilet; and stabbed a knife into the floor. Whitt also allegedly removed plumbing traps from the sinks and left the water running, causing extensive water damage to the ceilings and floors. Whitt turned on the gas stove in the upstairs kitchen, poured paint into the burners, and attempted to remove the smoke detector above the stove.
Whitt is charged with one count of violating the Fair Housing Act through force by willfully intimidating the homeowners based on their race, color and familial status. This is a crime punishable by a potential maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Whitt is also charged with attempted arson, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ up to a possible 20 years’ imprisonment.
Cincinnati Police officers arrested Whitt on December 9, 2016 on local breaking and entering and vandalism charges. Whitt was arrested this morning by FBI agents and Cincinnati Police officers on the federal charges.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation by the FBI and Cincinnati Police, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Megan Gaffney and Kyle Healey who are prosecuting the case.
An indictment merely contain allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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