A man in Indiana was sentenced in federal court for making racial threats to intimidate his black neighbor, in violation of the criminal provision of the Fair Housing Act, and for unlawfully possessing firearms.
U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson sentenced 51-year-old Shepherd Hoehn to 46 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for his offenses. Hoehn previously pled guilty to the charges on February 12, 2021. “I wanted to make him miserable,” Hoehn told the FBI about his neighbor.
According to court documents, Hoehn began harassing and intimidating his black neighbor on June 18, 2020, after a construction crew began working on the neighbor’s property to remove a tree.
When Hoehn learned about the tree removal, he became angry and took several steps to threaten, intimidate and interfere with his neighbor and the construction workers.
Hoehn reportedly placed and burned a cross above the fence line facing his neighbor’s property; created and displayed a swastika on the outer side of his own fence to face his neighbor’s property; created and displayed a large sign containing a variety of anti-Black racial slurs next to the swastika, and visibly displayed a machete near the sign with the racial slurs. He also blasted the song “Dixie” on repeat; and threw eggs at his neighbor’s house.
On July 1, 2020, the FBI executed a federal search warrant at Hoehn’s home, and during their search, several firearms and drug paraphernalia were located inside.
“Every person in the United States has the right to live in their home free from the threat of violence based on race,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “The federal government will not tolerate and will prosecute to the fullest extent the law allows, the sort of race-based threat that this defendant engaged in. We will continue fighting against racially motivated conduct, too often used to drive people from their homes and their communities,” she continued.