CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS

Friday, September 8, 2017

A former supervisory correctional officer at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to participating in the beating of a handcuffed and shackled inmate, conspiring to cover up his misconduct by falsifying official records and lying to internal investigators about what happened. Another defendant pled guilty in November 2016 for his role in the beating and cover up. Two co-defendants are scheduled for trial in January of 2018.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice celebrates its 60th anniversary on Saturday, September 9th. On September 9, 1957, President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, creating the Civil Rights Division. The 1957 Act was the first civil rights law passed since Reconstruction, and was a first step leading to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act the following year, and numerous other civil rights laws enacted in the years since that are enforced by the Civil Rights Division.

The Justice Department reached a settlement with the owners and manager of three Edmonds, Washington, apartment buildings to resolve a lawsuit filed earlier this year alleging that those landlords refused to rent their apartments to families with children, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits apartment owners and managers from denying housing to families because they have children. The landlords will pay a total of $95,000 in damages and civil penalties.

The Justice Department reached a settlement with Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, to resolve allegations that the Township violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when the Township denied zoning approval to allow the Bensalem Masjid to build a mosque on three adjoining parcels of land in the Township. As part of the agreement, the Bensalem Masjid will be permitted to use the three adjoining properties for the purpose of building a mosque.

Two Florida men were sentenced to a total of 54 months of incarceration for assault and cross burning aimed at intimidating an interracial couple living next door. Both men pled guilty to civil rights violations for their roles in attacking and intimidating the couple in Port Richey, Florida. A third co-defendant, also pled guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment on March 23, 2016. All three of the co-defendant’s sentences are to be followed by three years of supervised release. A fourth co-conspirator is now deceased.

Two Texas men pleaded guilty to assaulting men because of their sexual orientation. The defendants used a social media platform for gay men, in order to arrange a meeting at the victim’s home. Upon entering, the defendants restrained the victim with tape, physically assaulted the victim, and made derogatory statements about the victim’s sexual orientation. Both men pled guilty to federal hate crime charges.

A Florida man pleaded guilty to hate crime and weapons of mass destruction charges for attempting to attack a Florida synagogue. During the plea proceedings, the defendant admitted, he planned to conduct a firearms or explosives attack on the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in Aventura, Florida. He took steps to prepare for this attack including conducting surveillance of the Jewish Center.

The Justice Department filed a complaint alleging that the City of Glendale, Arizona, violated the employment rights of an Arizona Air National Guard member under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). USERRA protects the rights of uniformed servicemembers to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations, and provides that servicemembers shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations.

The Justice Department reached a settlement with Barrios Street Realty LLC, a company based in Lockport, Louisiana, to resolve claims that it discriminated against U.S. workers in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The company and its agent allegedly failed to consider or improperly rejected U.S. workers who applied for positions as sheet metal roofers or laborers, and then sought to fill the vacancies with foreign workers under the H-2B visa program. The company has paid approximately $108,000 to 12 U.S. workers pursuant to the settlement agreement.

A former Oklahoma jail administrator was sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for his conviction on a charge that he violated an inmate’s civil rights by depriving him of medical care, resulting in the inmate’s death. The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge on February 9, 2017.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Louisiana-based companies Technical Marine Maintenance Texas LLC, which provides contract shipyard labor, and Gulf Coast Workforce LLC, a related company, alleging that they violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by discriminating against applicants and employees during the employment eligibility verification process based on the workers’ citizenship status.

The Justice Department filed a complaint against Farmacia Lugo, Inc. (Farmacia Lugo), a business based in Puerto Rico, alleging that the company violated the employment rights of an U.S. Army Reservist under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). According to the complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, the Reservist’s military service was a motivating factor in Farmacia Lugo’s decision to terminate her employment.

For more information, go to https://www.justice.gov/opa.