Two white men may go to jail for 10 years after being accused of assaulting a Black man in Maine. A federal grand jury in the state indicted them over the alleged hate crime, according to a Justice Department release made public on Monday (Aug. 27).
Maurice Diggins, 34, and Dusty Leo, 27, both of Biddeford, Maine, were formally charged with conspiracy to violate and for violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, DOJ Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore and United States Attorney Halsey B. Frank for the District Of Maine said. A conviction for the hate crime charge can carry up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; the conspiracy charge can carry five years in prison and the same fine amount.
Diggins and Leo appeared in the U.S. District Court in Portland Monday — months after they were alleged to have assaulted an unidentified man.
The men had “willfully caused bodily injury” to an African-American man in a 7-Eleven convenience store parking lot in Biddeford on April 15 because of the man’s race, according to the indictment. The defendants allegedly drove a truck at a fast speed into the lot while the victim was walking outside the store. Diggins exited the vehicle and repeatedly referred to the victim as a racial slur; he also blocked the victim from entering the store. Leo then walked behind the man and struck him forcefully in the head. The two then allegedly followed and shouted racial slurs at the victim as he ran away, the indictment said.
Both the FBI and Biddeford Police Department investigated the incident. Diggins “adamantly denied” any wrongdoing, his attorney told The Associated Press.