Florida man pleads guilty to cross burning in couple’s yard

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Photo Source: First Coast News

Thomas Herris Sigler, III, 45, of Port Richey, Florida, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, to one count of conspiring with others to threaten, intimidate, and interfere with an interracial couple’s enjoyment of their housing rights.

According to court documents, in September and October 2012, Sigler was living on Seward Drive in Port Richey in a predominantly white community. After an interracial couple moved next door, Sigler harassed the African-American neighbor with racial slurs and derogatory statements, and on one occasion, physically assaulted him.

On Halloween night, Sigler attended a party at a neighbor’s house, where several Seward Drive residents decided to burn a cross in the front yard of the interracial couple in order to intimidate them and force them to move from the residence. Using wood and tools from the host of the Halloween party, Sigler and his co-conspirators constructed a wooden cross and poured gasoline on the cross. Sigler’s co-conspirators then carried the cross to the victims’ front yard, leaned it against their mailbox, and set the cross on fire.

One of Sigler’s co-conspirators, Pascual Carlos Pietri, pled guilty to the same charge as Sigler in 2015, and was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment on March 23, 2016. A third co-conspirator, William A. Dennis, 56, of Pasco County, Florida, is also charged for his role in the conspiracy.

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