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Description: Tampa, Florida criminal law lawyer represented Defendant charged for making a racially-motivated attack against a Black man who was traveling down a public roadway with his family in Seminole, Florida.
Jordan Patrick Leahy, age 29, was convicted of willfully intimidating and interfering with J.T., and attempting to injure, intimidate and interfere with J.T. through the use of a dangerous weapon (Leahy’s vehicle), because of J.T.’s race and color, and because J.T. was traveling on a public roadway in Seminole, Florida. Specifically, the government introduced evidence at trial that, when Leahy, while driving, came upon J.T. driving on a public road, Leahy shouted racial slurs at J.T. and attempted to force J.T.’s car off the road. J.T.’s girlfriend and four-year-old daughter were in the car at the time. When officers from the Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office arrived on the scene, Leahy made numerous statements evidencing his bias motive, including telling the officers that Black people need to be kept “in their areas.”
“This federal court has sentenced Jordan Leahy to prison for his decision to weaponize his vehicle in a racist attack on J.T.’s family,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The department will continue to aggressively prosecute those who seek to threaten and intimidate our community members because of their race. All persons should be free to travel on the public roadways without fear of being harmed because of who they are.”
“Today’s sentence sends a clear message that racially-motivated criminal behavior is especially repugnant and unacceptable,” said U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg of the Middle District of Florida. “We will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to enforce our nation’s civil rights laws.”
“We will not allow hate motivated crimes to infiltrate our communities and threaten our citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge David Walker for the FBI Tampa Field Division. “Investigating civil rights violations is among the FBI’s highest priorities and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect communities from hateful acts of bias.”
Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Handberg and Special Agent in Charge Walker made the announcement.
The FBI Tampa Field Office, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlton Gammons for the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorneys David Reese and Laura-Kate Bernstein of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.
18 U.S.C. 245 Federally Protected Activities
"18 U.S.C. Section 245, is one of the two primary federal
criminal civil rights statutes for bias-based violence cases
that do not involve housing. Section 245 prohibits the use
of force or threats of force against individuals because of
their race, color, religion, or national origin, and because
those individuals are engaged in federally protected
activities. This includes interference in the right to enroll
in public school or college; the right to participate in
any benefit, service, or program administered by a state;
employment by any private employer or state or local
agency; travel in or use of a facility of interstate commerce;
and enjoyment of goods or services of any place of public
"A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is defined
in federal law as “a crime in which the defendant
intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property
crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because
of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national
origin, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, or
sexual orientation of any person.” "
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.