Man gets prison term for Pennsylvania cross burning

Reuters News
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Posted: May 26, 2011 8:18 PM
Man gets prison term for Pennsylvania cross burning

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to one year in prison on Thursday for his role in the burning of a cross outside the house of an African-American foster child, authorities said.

Michael Bealonis, 19, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges related to the November 2009 incident in West Wheatfield, about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Two other men -- Michael Bracken, 23, and Kenneth Stiffey, 21 -- also pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.

Bealonis was sentenced in federal court to one year in prison followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to local media reports, the target of the cross-burning was a 16-year-old high school football player who had lived for several years with a foster family in West Wheatfield, a predominantly white rural community.

Cross burning was a tactic of intimidation used by the Ku Klux Klan for decades in the United States.

Bealonis pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to interfere with the housing rights of another, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering. Editing by Peter Bohan)