Florida Man Sentenced to 37 Months in Halloween Night KKK-Style Cross Burning

Cross Burning
Image: Breitbart Texas

A Florida man has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for his role in a Halloween night KKK-style cross burning.

Pascual Carlos Pietri, 53-years-of-age, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring with others to threaten, intimidate and interfere with an interracial couple’s enjoyment of their housing rights. U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew of Middle District of Florida sentenced him.

According to court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas, Pietri was living in a predominately white neighborhood in October of 2012. An interracial couple moved next door and on Halloween night several of the residents decided to burn a cross in the black man’s yard.

U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III said, “Cross burning remains a vicious symbol of hatred. All American families have the right to live where they choose, undisturbed by such racist threats. This prosecution sends a clear message that we will not tolerate hate crimes in our community.”

Residents in the neighborhood were having a party and where saying derogatory remarks about blacks and about their neighbor in particular. They decided to use wood and tools owned by the host of the party to build a wooded cross. They then obtained gasoline to use to set the cross on fire.

Pietri and another co-conspirator took the cross to the interracial couple’s yard and leaned the cross in an upright position against their mailbox. They took a flammable liquid and poured it on the wooden cross and then set it on fire.

These actions violated provisions of Title 18 of the United States Code, section 241 pertaining to conspiracy against the rights of another. This section provides for imprisonment of not more than ten years and a fine “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same.”

“Those who violently threaten others because of racial differences tear at the very fabric of our diverse American society,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The laws that protect our society leave no place for hate crimes.”

In a separate case, Pietri pleaded guilty to bank robbery at a Wells Fargo bank where he stole $5,000, according to the Tampa Tribune. He also has a prior criminal record that includes convictions for drug trafficking, grand theft motor vehicle, aggravated assault and burglary.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2