WASHINGTON—Brandon Piekarsky, 19, and Derrick Donchak, 21, both of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, were sentenced today to nine years in prison for the fatal beating of Luis Ramirez, the Justice Department announced. Piekarsky and Donchak were ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay $550 to the Pennsylvania victim compensation fund, as well as the special assessments for each count. Donchak was also sentenced to an additional 30 months for obstruction, which will be served concurrently.
On Oct. 14 2010, a federal jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania found both defendants guilty of a felony violation of the federal Fair Housing Act for fatally beating Luis Ramirez because he was Latino and because they did not want Latinos living in Shenandoah. In addition, the jury found that Donchak conspired to, and did in fact, obstruct justice during the investigation of this crime.
According to the evidence presented at trial, on July 12, 2008, the defendants came upon Ramirez in a park after leaving a community festival. The defendants and several of their friends, some of whom testified during the trial, attacked Ramirez. During the course of the beating, the defendants and their friends yelled racial epithets in which they repeatedly referred to Ramirez in derogatory racial terms and told him, “This is Shenandoah. This is America. Go back to Mexico.” According to testimony, Donchak beat Ramirez while holding a thick piece of metal identified at trial as a “fist pack.” After another of their friends punched Ramirez in the face, causing him to fall back and hit his head on the ground, Piekarsky kicked Ramirez in the head as he lay unconscious and prone on the ground. After Piekarsky kicked Ramirez, he told a bystander who was married to a Latino man, “Tell your Mexican friends to get out of Shenandoah or you will be lying next to him.” After the fight concluded, Ramirez was air-lifted to Geisinger Regional Medical Center, where he died of massive head injuries. The jury also heard evidence that, immediately following the beating, Donchak conspired to obstruct the investigation of the fatal assault.
“Acts of violence, like the beating of Luis Ramirez, have no place in this country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. “As this case illustrates, the Civil Rights Division is committed to vigorously protecting the civil rights of every person who lives in this country.”
This case was investigated by special agents from the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and was prosecuted by Myesha Braden and Gerard V. Hogan of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.