Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Making Racially Motivated Threats Toward Black Neighbor and to Unlawful Possession of Firearms
Many people assume the Fair Housing Act only applies to situations involving landlord/tenant interactions or the sale, purchase or advertising of housing. But the Act also applies in cases of tenant-on-tenant or neighbor-on-neighbor harassment.
Shepherd Hoehn, 51, plead guilty to “criminal interference with housing rights and a weapons charge” (firearms possession while a habitual user of marijuana is illegal under Indiana and federal law). Hoehn made threats based on race to intimidate his neighbor and to intimidate someone exercising his right to fair housing in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3631. The guilty plea is the latest action in the case since the FBI exercised a federal search warrant on Hoehn’s property on July 1, 2020.
“Hoehn’ s hateful and threatening conduct, motivated by racial intolerance, is an egregious crime that will not be tolerated by the Justice Department,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pam Karlan of the Civil Rights Division. “Every person has a right to occupy, enjoy and feel safe in their homes, regardless of race, color or national origin. We will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals and vigorously prosecute hate crime cases.”
Hoehn was found guilty of displays intended to intimidate and threaten his neighbor, including a cross burning; placing Nazi symbolism and threatening racial slurs on his fence, blasting racially charged music toward the neighbor’s home, and pelting the neighbor’s home with eggs.
“Hoehn’s sentencing date has not been set at this time. Hoehn faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the charged offenses.”