The Justice Department filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against owner and seller, who rents, sells, and finances homes in Wilkes County, North Carolina. The lawsuit alleges that the defendant sexually harassed actual and prospective female residents and borrowers in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

The Justice Department reached a settlement with the owners and former managers of more than 70 residential rental properties in the Morgantown, West Virginia area. The settlement resolves allegations that one defendant, while serving as the manager of these properties, sexually harassed female tenants and prospective tenants, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Under the settlement, the defendants have agreed to pay a total of $600,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties, and the defendant intends to transfer his ownership of these properties and to relinquish his role in managing them.

The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with J & R Associates, the owner and operator of the Royal Park Apartments, a 224-unit multi-family housing complex in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. The settlement resolves allegations that J & R Associates discriminated against tenants of South Asian descent in violation of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race and national origin.

The Justice Department reached a settlement with COPOCO Community Credit Union, based in Bay City, Michigan, to resolve allegations that it illegally repossessed four servicemembers’ vehicles. The department’s lawsuit, filed July 26, 2016, alleged that COPOCO violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by repossessing cars owned by protected servicemembers without first obtaining the required court orders. Under the agreement, COPOCO must change its policies and compensate four servicemembers whose cars COPOCO unlawfully repossessed.

A Mississippi correctional officer was sentenced to 18 months in prison and one (1) year of supervised release for leading the cover-up after an inmate was severely beaten at the state’s Parchman Prison. Three other officers have already been sentenced for the March 9, 2014, incident, in which an officer punched and kicked the victim while he lay nonresistant on the ground. The victim was temporarily blinded by the attack and suffered severe blood loss, a broken orbital bone, and permanent partial vision loss.

The Justice Department reached an agreement with Sellari’s Enterprises, Inc. (Sellari’s), a company that provides staffing services in Orlando, Florida. The agreement resolves the department’s investigation into whether Sellari’s violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their work authorization.

A former Arizona prison transport officer was indicted for sexual assault and threatening the victim with a firearm. The jury returned a three-count indictment against the defendant for crimes related to his sexual assaults of a female in his custody, and using his firearm in furtherance of these assaults.

A former Kansas highway patrol trooper was indicted for violating an individual’s civil rights by using excessive force. The indictment alleges that the defendant, while acting under color of law as a trooper, used excessive force resulting in bodily injury and punishment against the victim.

The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. (Panda Express), a restaurant chain with over 1,800 locations in the United States. The agreement resolves the department’s investigation into whether Panda Express discriminated against non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when reverifying their permission to work.

A Texas man was charged with a three-count superseding indictment, for allegedly burning the Victoria Islamic Center on January 28, 2017. The United States originally arrested and charged the defendant in connection with an attempt to blow up a car with a destructive device. At a detention hearing held the following week, the court heard evidence linking the defendant to a January 22, 2017, burglary of the Victoria Islamic Center as well as a January 28, 2017, burglary and arson of the same mosque.

The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement with the State of New York to resolve claims it failed to provide voter registration opportunities required by Section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Under the terms of the settlement, New York will fully integrate a voter registration opportunity into all applications for a driver’s license and other identification documents, including in-person and online renewal applications.

A Florida man was indicted by a federal grand jury on a hate crime charge for making telephonic threat to shoot congregants at the Islamic Center of Greater Miami. The defendant is alleged to have left a profanity laden message against Islam, the prophet Mohammed, and the Koran, during which he threatened to shoot mosque members.

A former Mississippi corrections officer was sentenced to 50 weekends in prison, five years probation and 150 hours of community service for severely beating an inmate at the state’s Parchman Prison. The defendant, admitted at his guilty plea in February that he repeatedly punched and kicked the victim while he lay nonresistant on the ground. The victim was temporarily blinded by the attack and suffered severe blood loss, a broken orbital bone, and permanent partial vision loss after the March 9, 2014, incident.

A Tennessee man was sentenced to 235 months in prison for soliciting another person to violate federal civil rights laws by burning down a mosque in Islamberg, a hamlet outside Hancock, New York. The defendant also was found guilty of soliciting another person to commit arson.

On June 29, the Hate Crimes Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety [click here] hosted a summit on hate crimes, bringing in diverse communities and civil rights organizations to discuss ways to improve hate crime enforcement, including training of law enforcement personnel, data collection, outreach to affected communities, and other areas.

For more information, go to www.justice.gov.