Pa. teen pleads guilty to cross-burning

Feb. 10, 2011 at 7:58 AM
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PITTSBURGH, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania teenager pleaded guilty to burning a cross in the yard of a mixed-race family in November 2009, the U.S. Justice Department said.

In federal court in Pittsburgh, Michael Francis Bealonis, 19, of Robinson, Pa., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with the housing rights of another for the cross-burning at a residence that was the home to children, one of whom was African-American, the department said Wednesday in a release.

Court documents indicated Bealonis and others burned the cross in the backyard of the family, and shouted racial slurs during the burning.

"This teen used an unmistakable symbol of bigotry and hate to threaten a family with violence simply because the race of a child," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the department's Civil Rights Division. "These incidents have no place in our country, and they are a reminder of the civil rights challenges we still face today."

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