A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment today against Justin Whittington, 24, of Bakersfield, California, charging him with interfering with a person’s housing rights because of his race, color or national origin by use of force or threat of force, use of a firearm during a crime of violence, unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm and making a false statement to a special agent of the FBI, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and U. S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner of the Eastern District of California.
According to court documents, on Dec. 19, 2012, Whittington shouted racist slurs at a Latino man outside the Latino man’s home in Oildale, California, and fired a sawed off shot gun in an attempt to intimidate and interfere with the victim’s occupancy of his home because of his race, color or national origin.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and the Kern County, California, Sheriff’s Office. Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U. S. Attorney Brian K. Delaney of the Eastern District of California are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Whittington faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.