Three Men Convicted of Committing Federal Hate Crime in Utah
WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Salt Lake City, late Friday night, convicted Shaun A. Walker of Mill Point, W.Va., and Travis D. Massey and Eric G. Egbert, both of Salt Lake City, of assaulting a Mexican-American man in 2002 and conspiring to violate the civil rights of individuals for racially-motivated reasons in 2002 and 2003. The jury also found the defendants guilty of violating the victims’ federally protected right to enjoy a place of public accommodation free from violence based on their race.
Walker is a former leader of the West Virginia-based National Alliance, a white separatist group; Massey was also a member of the group.
The jury found the three men guilty of beating James Ballesteros, a Mexican-American, on New Year’s Eve 2002. The evidence at trial established that just before midnight, Walker, Massey and Egbert entered the O’Shucks bar in downtown Salt Lake City and shouted racial epithets at several patrons, including Ballesteros. As Ballesteros attempted to leave the bar, the defendants beat him to the ground by brutally punching and kicking him.
The conspiracy charge on which all three defendants were convicted also included an allegation that Massey participated in a similar assault against an unidentified Native American man outside the Port O’Call bar in Salt Lake City in March 2003.
“Racial violence is offensive to our nation’s fundamental values,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting the federal laws prohibiting violent acts motivated by hate.”
Prosecuting the perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes is a top priority of the Justice Department. Since 2001, the Civil Rights Division has charged 165 defendants in 105 cases of bias-motivated crimes.
The case was investigated by the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Salt Lake City Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos A. Esqueda and Trial Attorney Stephen J. Curran of the Civil Rights Division.
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