WASHINGTON – Michael Bullard, Richard Armstrong and James Whitewater were
sentenced today in federal court in Boise, Idaho, for 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, the Justice Department announced
U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge sentenced Bullard, of Middleton, Idaho,
to 51 months in prison, three years of supervised release, 80 hours of community
service and a $200 special assessment. Armstrong, of Nampa, Idaho, was sentenced
to 46 months in prison, three years of supervised release, 80 hours of community
service and a $200 special assessment. Whitewater, of Nampa, was sentenced to 18
months in prison, three years of supervised release and a $100 special
assessment. Bullard, 23, and Armstrong, 24, were convicted by a jury in July
2009. Whitewater, 23, pleaded guilty before trial and testified against the
other two defendants.
"Driven by bigotry and hate, the defendants brutally assaulted a man for no
other reason than his race. Abhorrent acts of violence such as this have no
place in America," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Civil
Rights Division. "Aggressive prosecution of hate crimes is a top priority for
the Civil Rights Division, and today’s sentences should send a message to others
who would carry out similar acts of violence that they will be brought to
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, 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
U.S.Attorney Tom Moss for the District of Idaho 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
U.S Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division handled this difficult case
with great skill and dedication."