LULAC Congratulates Department of Justice for Upholding Civil Rights

December 15, 2009

Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos (202) 365-4553 mobile

Washington, DC – A federal grand jury has returned multiple indictments arising out of a fatal racially motivated beating and related police corruption in Shenandoah, Pa., the Justice Department announced today. The three indictments include federal hate crime, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, official misconduct and extortion charges.

“Our faith in the justice system has been reaffirmed. We are elated that the Department of Justice civil rights division ruled the incidents were indeed a hate crime and that justice will be served,” said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “We agree with Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Department of Justice that there is no room for hate or hate crimes on America. The justice system is working for Americans.”

LULAC, MALDEF and many other Latino organizations brought the incident to the attention of Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General to address concerns.

The first indictment charges Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky with commiting a federal hate crime for fatally beating Luis Ramirez, a Latino male, while shouting racial slurs at him. According to the indictment, on July 12, 2008, the defendants, and others, were walking home from a local festival when they encountered Ramirez. The defendants then attacked Ramirez in a public street by striking and kicking him while members of the group yelled racial slurs at him. Ramirez died two days later from his injuries. The indictment also alleges that, immediately following the beating, Donchak, Piekarsky and others, including members of the Shenandoah Police Department, participated in a scheme to obstruct the investigation of the fatal assault. As a result of this alleged obstruction, Donchak is charged in three additional counts for conspiring to obstruct justice and related offenses.

If convicted, Piekarsky and Donchak face a maximum penalty of life in prison on the hate crime charge. Donchak faces 20 years in prison on each of the obstruction charges and an additional five years in prison for conspiring to obstruct justice.

A second indictment charges Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor, Lt. William Moyer and Police Officer Jason Hayes with conspiring to obstruct justice during the investigation into the fatal beating of Ramirez. Moyer has also been charged with witness and evidence tampering, and with lying to the FBI.

If convicted, the defendants face 20 years in prison on each of the obstruction charges and an additional five years in prison for conspiring to obstruct justice. Moyer faces an additional five years in prison for making false statements to the FBI.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the largest and oldest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.

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