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Lawrence man pleads guilty to federal charges for harassing Black neighbor

Courts adjust during the pandemic.
Posted at 1:07 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 13:07:40-05

LAWRENCE — A 51-year-old Lawrence man has pleaded guilty to charges after he made racially-motivated threats to intimidate and interfere with his neighbor, who is Black, according to federal officials.

Shepherd Hoehn was charged last year after he displayed a swastika on a fence and a sign of racial slurs with a machete near it facing his neighbor's property, placed and burned a cross facing his neighbors, and played the song "Dixie" on repeat, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

During the investigation, Hoehn acknowledged he was angry over a dispute with the neighbors and knew his actions would cause his neighbors to feel intimidated and be afraid," a press release from August read.

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When FBI agents asked Hoehn what he thought his neighbor was going to see when he saw the words and symbols, the man said he wanted to make his neighbor upset, according to a criminal complaint.

"I don’t care. I wanted to piss him off. I wanted to make him miserable," the complaint said Hoehn told FBI agents.

“It’s unimaginable that harassment and intimidation such as this based on race, sexual identity or religious beliefs still exists in this day and age," said FBI Indianapolis Division Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan, in a press release. "Such incidents are intended to create fear and will not be tolerated by the FBI. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to ensure that if a crime is motivated by bias, it will be investigated and the perpetrators held responsible for their actions. We encourage everyone to report such crimes to the FBI.”

He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,00 for each offense, according to the press release. A sentencing date hasn't been set.