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Hate crime in Nampa leads to federal convictions

Last year on the Fourth of July, three men, shouting racial slurs, ambushed, chased and beat a 24-year-old African-American man as he left a Wal-Mart in Nampa. Now, two of the men have been convicted of hate crime assault by a federal jury in Boise. The third earlier pleaded guilty, and testified against the other two; the two just convicted, Michael Bullard, 22, of Middleton, and Richard Armstrong, 24, of Nampa, face up to 20 years in federal prison for the attack.  “Driven by bigotry and prejudice, the defendants brutally assaulted a young man because of the color of his skin,” said Loretta King, acting Attorney General for the Civil Rights Divison. “We are pleased that a jury of their peers has brought them to justice, as hate crimes have no place in America. The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit such acts of violence to the full extent the law allows.”

U.S. Attorney for Idaho Tom Moss said, “These convictions mean that racial crimes will not be tolerated, not in this country, not on any day.  Idaho, like most other parts of this nation, has had inglorious moments in its past when people endured oppression and criminal acts merely because of their skin color, race, national origin, gender or religion.  We are long past that time.” The two defendants will be sentenced  in October. Click below to read the full news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.


United States Attorney

District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  -  July 23, 2009                                                                        

TWO IDAHO MEN CONVICTED FOR FEDERAL HATE CRIME ASSAULT

        Michael Bullard and Richard Armstrong were convicted yesterday by a jury in Boise, Idaho, on federal hate crime and conspiracy charges in connection with the racially-motivated assault of an African American man outside of a Wal-Mart store in July 2008, announced Loretta King, Acting Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division; Thomas E. Moss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho; Timothy Fuhrman, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office; and Bill Augsburger, Chief of the Nampa Police Department.

        Bullard and Armstrong each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison when they are sentenced on Oct.19, 2009.  A third defendant, James Whitewater, pleaded guilty before trial and testified against the other two defendants.

        Evidence at trial revealed that on July 4, 2008, as the victim, a 24-year-old African American man, walked out of a Wal-Mart store in Nampa, Idaho, he was ambushed, chased and beaten by three men who used racial slurs as they carried out the attack.  Witnesses testified that Bullard, Armstrong and Whitewater all participated in the assault, while a fourth person, a girlfriend of one of the defendants, held their belongings and cheered them on.  The girlfriend, Jennifer Hartpence, was initially charged as a co-defendant, but her case was dismissed before it reached the jury.

        After four hours of deliberation, the jury convicted the two remaining defendants of conspiring to violate the federally-protected rights of the victim and of actually violating the victim’s protected rights by engaging in the racially-motivated assault.

        “Driven by bigotry and prejudice, the defendants brutally assaulted a young man because of the color of his skin.  We are pleased that a jury of their peers has brought them to justice, as hate crimes have no place in America,” said Assistant Attorney General King.  “The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit such acts of violence to the full extent the law allows.”

        United States Attorney Tom Moss said, “These convictions mean that racial crimes will not be tolerated… not in this Country … not on any day.   Idaho, like most other parts of this Nation, has had inglorious moments in its past when people endured oppression and criminal acts merely because of their skin color, race, national origin, gender or religion.  We are long past that time.  Thanks to the FBI and Nampa PD for their outstanding work in bringing this case forward. The United States Attorney’s Office also thanks the Civil Rights Division of DOJ for its help and collaboration.”   

        “One cannot help but note the irony that the terrible acts of which these two defendants were convicted occurred on the 4th of July, last year,” said Timothy J. Fuhrman, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office.  “The initial aggressive investigation by Nampa Police Department in this matter led to their indictment and conviction.  In this day and age, law enforcement will not tolerate hate crimes.  The FBI is committed to investigating these incidents aggressively and without hesitation.  The prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office and DOJ’s Civil Rights Division handled this difficult case with great skill and dedication.”

        “The victim of these crimes was minding his own business, shopping in a store in our city which is open to the public–as all of us do, and have a right to do, every day.  This man paid a high price as an example and reminder to all of us that we must protect our rights with courage, and citizens must be vigilant in defending the rights of their fellow citizens,”  said Nampa Police Department Chief Bill Augsburger.  “These convictions were possible because of vigorous investigation by Nampa Police detectives, cooperation by citizens of Nampa, support and collaboration by the FBI, and vigorous and dedicated prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Civil Rights Division.  Hate crimes are serious and will not be tolerated in this community.”

        This case was investigated by FBI Special Agent Dominic Venturi and Nampa Police Department Detective Jason Kimball.  It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Erin Aslan.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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