Man sent to prison for cross burning at Pennsylvania home

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 09, 2011 3:13 PM
Man sent to prison for cross burning at Pennsylvania home

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in a cross burning outside the home of a black teen and his white foster family, authorities said on Friday.

Kenneth Stiffey, 21, and two other men were accused of building the 6-foot cross and setting it ablaze in the back yard of the teen's house in Indiana County in November 2009, according to court documents and the U.S. Attorney's office.

One of the other men, Michael Bealonis, 19, was sentenced in May to one year in prison. The third man, Michael Bracken, 23, was scheduled to be sentenced on September 26.

Stiffey was sentenced on Thursday by Senior Judge Alan Bloch in federal court in Pittsburgh.

Each man was charged with conspiracy to interfere with the housing rights of another, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

"This case underscores our commitment to prosecute those who commit crimes driven by hatred or intolerance," U.S. Attorney David Hickton said in a statement.

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

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)