Federal officials Tuesday announced sentencing for two Medford men who burned a cross on an African American family's lawn last year.
Gary Moss, age 37, was sentenced to serve 41 months in federal prison for conspiring to deprive individuals of their civil rights.
Co-conspirator Devan Klausegger, age 30, was sentenced to serve 51 months for the same charge. Both defendants were ordered to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $3,107.00.
According to plea agreements filed in court, both defendants admit that on May 26, 2008, Moss poured a flammable liquid in the shape of a cross and the letters "KKK" on the front lawn of a residence leased by an African American male.
Then Klausegger handed Moss a small explosive device which Moss used to start a fire on the lawn. The fire was close enough to the victim's house to endanger the house and its occupants, including the man's wife and their two small children.
Fortunately, a neighbor grabbed a garden hose and extinguished the fire before the victims' home could catch fire with them inside.
When the defendants pled guilty in February 2009, Moss and Klausegger admitted their actions were intended to scare the minority victims into moving because of their race, which is a violation of federal civil rights laws under the Fair Housing Act.
Chief U. S. District Judge Ann Aiken agreed with the Assistant U.S. Attorney and the victim in saying, "No one deserves this, especially kids. Kids need to feel safe and loved by everyone." In handing down the sentences, Judge Aiken said,"this case is about making a difference for the next generation . . . The impact [of this crime] will be felt by the victims for the rest of their lives. Generally I believe human beings are kind and generous but in this case I think that veil has been pierced."
"Americans should be free to live in a home of their choosing, free from threats of bigotry and intimidation. The Civil Rights Division will prosecute those who commit such despicable acts of hatred to the full extent of the law," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
"Crimes motivated by racial hatred are an abomination in a civilized society." U. S. Attorney Immergut said, "We hope that the sentences imposed today will deter others from engaging in similar conduct". She further noted the U.S. Attorney's Office's public website has recently been updated with a Civil Rights Complaint Form, providing the citizens of Oregon with a resource for voicing concerns about civil rights violations. The form can be accessed at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/or/CivilRightsEnforcement.html.
In order to provide citizens a central location for information about criminal complaints of violations of federal laws, the website has also been updated to include web links to the federal law enforcement agencies which investigate violations of federal criminal laws.
This matter was investigated by the Medford, Oregon office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William (Bud) Fitzgerald and Trial Attorney Roy Conn III of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.