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Lawrence man sentenced to 46 months in prison for 'vile' racist harassment of Black neighbor

Shepherd Hoehn pleaded guilty to acts including burning a cross, displaying a swastika and a racist slur display
Hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017, FBI report finds
Posted at 2:39 PM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 14:41:17-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A 51-year-old man was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to racist harassment and intimidation toward his Black neighbor last summer.

Shepherd Hoehn was sentenced on Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson for making racially-motivated threats to intimidate and interfere with his neighbor — which violates the criminal provision of the Fair Housing Act — and unlawfully possessing firearms.

The 51-year-old Lawrence man was charged last year after burning a cross, displaying a swastika and a sign with several racist slurs, near a machete, toward his neighbor's property. He also repeatedly, and loudly, played the song "Dixie" and threw eggs at the neighbor's house.

MORE | 'I wanted to make him miserable': Man arrested on federal charges for harassing Black neighbor |

Hoehn's conduct, according to court documents and statements made during his hearing, all stemmed from his neighbors removing a tree on their property.

Hoehn told the Federal Bureau of Investigation he was angry with his neighbors for cutting down their tree and wanted to make his neighbors "miserable."

Hoehn pled guilty to all of the acts of harassment in February.

“Every person in the United States has the right to live in their home free from the threat of violence based on race,” Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, stated. “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.”

“Mr. Hoehn was held responsible for his vile conduct,” Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress, of the Southern District of Indiana, stated. “We are a diverse nation, bound together by shared values and beliefs. 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.”

In addition to the 46-month sentence, Hoehn will also have three years of supervised release.