Articles Posted in Hate Crimes

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Jonathan Chadwick, John Curley and William Chadwick have all been indicted by an Essex County Massachusetts grand jury on charges of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. The charges stem from the beating of Justin Goodwin, a gay man who was enjoying an evening at a bar in Gloucester on April 10, 2009. Goodwin was at the Old Timer’s Tavern with his sister. Apparently he tried to defend her at which time the bar’s bouncers escorted him outside. There, he was beaten unconscious by the defendants. Goodwin sustained twelve broken bones in his face. Several plates now hold his face together. The case will be prosecuted in the Essex County Superior Court in Salem, Massachusetts.

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Essex County Massachusetts Men Indicted For Beating Man At Gloucester Bar Facing Up To 15 Years In Prison

Assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon is a felony in Massachusetts. The crime is codified in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 15A. While the crime itself carries a maximum ten year state prison sentence there is an aggravated form of the crime that permits a judge to sentence someone convicted to up to fifteen years. Subsection (b) of the statute permits a more severe penalty when the crime results in serious bodily injury. The phrase “serious bodily injury” means bodily injury which results in a permanent disfigurement or a substantial risk of death.

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A thirty three year Salem, Massachusetts man was beaten so badly outside of a Gloucester bar that he had to undergo ten hours of surgery. He suffered severe head trauma and has lost hearing in his right ear and he cannot see out of his right eye. The defendants are Jonathan and William Chadwick. Reports claim that this is a hate crime and that the victim is a gay man. Both defendants have been charged with aggravated assault and battery and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. The case is now pending in the Gloucester District Court.

Two Men Charged In Gay Bashing Incident

Aggravated assault and battery is a crime under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13A. As applicably to this case, the law states that anyone who commits an assault and battery causing serious bodily injury is guilty of a felony, punishable by up to five years on prison. The assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon charge is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

The district attorney will have the discretion as to whether these cases are prosecuted in the district court or the superior court. Given the extent of the victim’s injuries and the reported motive of the defendants I am quite certain that these cases will be presented to a grand jury and indicted to the superior court. Unless the defendants go to trial and win their cases they will likely serve some state prison time.

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Three Springfield, Massachusetts men were charged in Federal Court with a civil rights violation stemming from an arson purportedly committed on November 5, 2008.  Authorities stated the men poured gasoline inside and outside the church and set fire to the structure “because it was a black church”.  The act took place hours after the presidential election.  The men were detained pending a hearing and on January 21, 2009 all were released subject to specified conditions.  The fire caused an estimated two million dollars to the church. 

The investigation into this crime took just over two months to complete.  It was conducted by Massachusetts State Police, the Springfield Police, the FBI, the ATF, the United States Attorney’s office, the state fire marshal and the Hampden County District Attorney’s office.  According to reports one of the defendants boasted about having committed the crime and in doing so attributed the actions of the three to hate. Arson was not charged as one of the crimes.  It was reported that on November 9, 2008 police received information from an informant who stated that two of the perpetrators bragged about having set the fire.  In January of this year an undercover officer solicited one of the defendants to set a fire for insurance money.  In the course of discussions one of the defendants boasted about having burned down the church as well as several arsons that he supposedly committed. 

Read Full Article, Boston Globe, January 17, 2009

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/17/church_arson_tied_to_racism/

See also United States Attorney Press Release, January 16, 2009

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ma/Press%20Office%20-%20Press%20Release%20Files/Jan2009/ComplaintPR.html

It appears that right now all defendants are charged with violating 18 U.S.C. Section 241 which states that “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same” that person can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. 

For some reason not explained in the new reports the defendants were not charged with arson.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 2 makes the burning of a church a crime.  The law states in part that anyone who willfully and maliciously burns a church can be sentenced to 10 years in prison if convicted.  There is a federal arson statute that may not have had applicability to this case.  See 18 U.S.C. Section 81

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Last Thursday two Massachusetts men were charged with committing hate crimes against two Muslim families of Middle Eastern descent.  Boston.com reported that Adam Bonito of Revere and Christopher Giaquinto of Winthrop repeatedly vandalized and damaged cars parked in front of a duplex where the victim lived. One of the counts stems from an incident in September of 2004 where the defendants purportedly broke a windshield and several windows on a Nissan van parked outside the home.  In January and March of 2005 Bonito vandalized another van in front of the house where the victim lived.  Read Full Article, Boston.com September 26, 2008
 
A press release from the United States Attorney’s Office in Boston stated that the two men were charged with carrying out a criminal conspiracy that interfered with the fair housing rights of the Muslim families.  The prosecution contends that “it was the plan and purpose of the conspiracy to vandalize a van, believed to belong to one of the residents, in order to interfere with the victim’s housing rights because of race.”  The press release goes on to state that if convicted the defendants face one year in prison and a $100,000.00 fine. 

 
Hate crime laws are designed to protect anyone in a particular jurisdiction against crimes that are motivated by hostility towards a particular designated group.  The federal statute provides for prosecutions of hate crimes committed towards a person’s race, religion, color or national origin provided the victims are engaging in federal protected activities. 
 
Massachusetts has enacted several hate crimes statutes.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 6 Section 116 B mandates police training for hate crimes. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 98 criminalizes vandalizing schoolhouse, church or other building erected or used for purposes of education or religious instruction.  Penalties for a conviction of the preceding law can amount to 5 years in state prison depending on the extent of the damage done.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 39 makes an assault and battery or damaging property a crime if it is done with the intent to intimidate the victim because of his race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.  Punishment for a conviction under this section can amount to 2 1/2 years in prison.  If however bodily injury results from the commission of this crime you face 5 years in prison.  If the crime is committed by someone carrying a firearm there is a potential 10 year state prison sentence.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 37 makes it a crime to interfere with one’s constitutional rights.  There is a maximum 1 year jail sentence for violating this law unless bodily injury occurs.  In that case you could be looking at 10 years in prison. 
 
Massachusetts prosecutors and judges take hate crimes seriously.  That is why if you are charged with one of these offense you must make sure you hire an experienced Massachusetts Hate Crimes Defense Lawyer.  Everyone in this country has the right to live free of fear and intimidation regardless of their race, religion, color or national origin.  However there are times when people exploit their differences and falsely accused others of acting in a race based or prejudiced manner.  It is the job of a criminal defense attorney to show a judge or a jury that the actions were not race based or motivated by prejudices in any way.  Attorney Stephen Neyman has been successful in defending hate crimes cases and getting many of those cases dismissed. 
 
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