Two Maine men are sentenced for federal hate crimes.
A case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against a Maine man, Dusty Leo, 30, who pleaded guilty to federal crimes of conspiring to, and committing, a hate crime on February 25, 2020, has led to a sentence this month of three years in prison in addition to another three years of supervised release and restitution. A jury convicted Leo’s co-conspirator and uncle, Maurice Diggins, of conspiring to commit and committing a series of assaults against Black men following a trial in March 2020. For his crimes Diggins was previously sentenced to a decade behind bars in addition to three years of supervised release.
According to Leo’s plea, as well as evidence presented at Diggins’s trial that ultimately led to his conviction, on April 15, 2018, Diggins “attacked a Sudanese man without provocation and broke the victim’s jaw. This was immediately followed by an attack on another Black man who was standing on the street nearby,” court records show.
In a second attack, “which occurred approximately an hour later and approximately 20 miles away in Biddeford,” Diggins and Leo drove to a convenience store, “where Diggins got out of the truck and approached a Black man who was walking toward the store’s entrance. Diggins directed a racial slur at the man and distracted him while Leo got out of the truck and sucker-punched the victim in the jaw, knocking him to the ground. The unprovoked attack broke the victim’s jaw in several places,” the indictment stated.
“The defendant violently attacked a Black man for no reason other than his race,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentencing marks the final chapter in the long road to justice for the victims of these violent, racially motivated crimes. The Department of Justice will continue to use the Mathew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and every tool at our disposal, to vindicate the rights of victims of hate crimes, and will continue to investigate and prosecute these acts wherever they occur.”
“The crimes committed by Mr. Leo and his co-conspirator injured and traumatized their victims, and also traumatized the communities in which they occurred,” added Acting U.S. Attorney Donald E. Clark for the District of Maine. “No one should be targeted for violence because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity. Crimes like this tear at the very fabric of our society. This prosecution makes clear that individuals who commit hate-motivated crimes will be made to pay for their actions.”
Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta of the FBI Boston Field Office helped with the investigation. He said, “Today’s sentence should make it crystal clear that those who traffic in hate, targeting people in our community because of their skin color, will be held accountable for their horrific, violent crimes. No one should be afraid to walk down the street and be targeted by an act of violence based on how they look, where they are from, or any part of their identity.”