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SALT LAKE CITY — A Hurricane man pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges for threatening to kill a family in his community if an African-American member of the family didn't move out.
Robert Keller, 70, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court of Utah on Tuesday to writing a note threatening to kill two white members of the family last December if they didn't make their relative move out and leave town.
Keller admitted in court to targeting the two residents specifically because they were associating with someone who was African-American. He was charged in April with two misdemeanor counts of criminal interference with a right to fair housing, a civil rights violation.
"Hate-based crimes have no place in America," acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christen said in a statement Tuesday. "They not only hurt the individuals who are the object of such hate, but tear at the fabric of our society as a whole. In this case, the defendant's attempt to rid his neighborhood of an African-American member of an interracial family serves as a horrifying reminder that racial intolerance still exists in some communities."
Keller, who faces a maximum of one year in prison, will be sentenced Dec. 1.