Florida man sentenced for hate crime
Jordan Patrick Leahy, 29, has been sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
The judgment held in federal court in the Middle District of Florida followed Leahy’s racially-motivated attack against a Black man who was traveling down a public roadway with his family in Seminole, Florida.
According to court documents, Leahy 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.