Photo: Hispanic Hate Crimes
The Justice Department announced today that Johnny Mathis, 47, of Lecompte, La., pleaded guilty to two federal crimes for shooting at the home of three Hispanic men living across the street from him because of the victims’ race and national origin.
Mathis pleaded guilty to criminal interference with the right to fair housing and using a firearm during a crime of violence. Mathis admitted that, on June 15, 2008, he shot at the victims’ home because the victims were Mexican. When the defendant began shooting at their home, the victims fled into the woods behind their residence. Mathis then entered the home with his firearm. All three victims survived the shooting unharmed.
“The defendant targeted his neighbors with violence because of their race and national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Acts of violence like this one have no place in our country, and the department will vigorously prosecute those who engage in such conduct.”
“Everyone, regardless of race, national origin or religion, etc., has the right to feel secure in their homes and free from violence,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana Stephanie A. Finley. “That’s pretty basic. Our office will protect that right for all people residing in this district and will continue to prosecute these types of crimes.”
Sentencing is scheduled for July 28, 2011. Mathis faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a fine of $ 250,000, or both, on the fair housing charge. He also faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison for the firearm charge, which must run consecutively to any term imposed on the fair housing charge.