Indiana Man Sentenced to Prison for Harassing Black Neighbor With Burning Cross, Swastika

An Indiana man has been sentenced to 46 months in prison after he using racially motivated threats to intimidate and interfere with his Black neighbor.


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An Indiana man who made race-based threats towards his neighbor has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, according to apress release from the Department of Justice.

Shepherd Hoehn, 51, will also have three years of supervised release for using racist ploys to intimidate his neighbor, who is Black. Hoehn’s charges stemmed from violating the criminal provision of the Fair Housing Act, and also from illegally possessing weapons. He pleaded guilty to these charges on Feb. 12, 2021.

Hoehn’s scare tactics began on June 18, 2020, when his neighbor hired a construction crew to extract a tree from the neighbor’s yard. When Hoehn found out the neighbor was getting rid of the tree, Hoehn “became angry” and started to “threaten, intimidate and interfere” with the construction workers’ jobs, according to the statement.

Hoehn’s plan included burning a cross above the fence line facing his neighbor’s property, brandishing a homemade swastika on the outer side of his fence so the neighbor could view it, and displaying a homemade sign that included a number of racial slurs and a machete. Hoehn also had the song “Dixie” on a loop and threw eggs at the neighbor’s home. On July 1, the FBI searched Hoehn’s home and discovered several firearms and drug paraphernalia.

“Every person in the United States has the right to live in their home free from the threat of violence based on race,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The federal government will not tolerate, and will prosecute to the fullest extent the law allows, the sort of race-based threat that this defendant engaged in. We will continue fighting against racially motivated conduct, too often used to drive people from their homes and their communities.”

Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress of the Southern District of Indiana added that Hoehn was “held responsible for his vile conduct,” and explained that Hoehn’s actions have no place in the U.S.

“We are a diverse nation, bound together by shared values and beliefs,” Childress added. “We are also a nation of laws. Those like Mr. Hoehn who would betray our shared values and beliefs through behavior such as this rightly suffer the penalties our laws prescribe.” 

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