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Lawrence man arrested on federal hate crime charges for swastika, slurs aimed at Black neighbor

Shepard Hoehn said he was angry over a dispute with neighbors and knew his actions would cause fear and intimidation.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

LAWRENCE, Indiana — A Lawrence man is facing federal hate crime charges for racially charged threats he made against his neighbor.

United States Attorney Josh Minkler announced the charges Thursday against 50-year-old Shepard T. Hoehn. Hoehn is accused of displaying a swastika on a fence facing the property of his neighbor, who is Black, and also burned a cross above the fence line facing the man's property. He also placed a sign next to the swastika with anti-Black slurs and displayed a machete next to the sign. On top of that, investigators say Hoehn repeatedly played the song "Dixie" at high volume.

“Although the First Amendment protects hateful, ignorant and morally repugnant beliefs and speech, it does not protect those who choose to take criminal actions based on those beliefs,” said Minkler. “This office will continue to prosecute federal hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”

Hoehn reportedly told Lawrence police and the FBI that he was angry over a dispute with the neighbors and knew his actions would cause fear and intimidation in his neighbors.

While executing a search warrant on the property, officers found several firearms and drug paraphernalia in Hoehn's home. As a fugitive wanted for a case in Missouri, federal law prohibited Hoehn from possessing the firearms.

Hoehn is facing charges including one count of making threats to intimidate and interfere with his neighbor because of the neighbor's race and two counts of unlawfully possessing firearms. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for each of the charges.