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Three Sentenced In Cross Burning

FRIDAY, JAN. 31, 1997

Three men have been sentenced to prison for burning a cross in a black man’s yard last year.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones on Wednesday sentenced James Thede of Wood Village and Michael Shuman and Joshua Bane, both of Gresham, each to a year and a day in jail. The judge also imposed $3,000 fines.

Last week, Jones sentenced two other men for the crime, one to a year in prison, the other to 2-1/2 years.

The five pleaded guilty in December to building a 10-foot cross, dousing it with gasoline and setting it on fire June 16 in Billy Ballard’s front yard. Ballard, 52, was asleep on the couch in his suburban Gresham home.

Thede admitted in court that he suggested to his friends, after each had drunk approximately a case of beer, that they target Ballard. They chose Ballard after neighbors scared them away from another intended black victim.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer said the three men sentenced Wednesday cooperated fully with the FBI and Gresham police. With no witnesses, investigators relied on the three to outline the cross burners’ roles, Peifer said.

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