PORTLAND, Maine (AP/NCM) — A pair of white Maine men have been indicated by a grand jury on charges of violating federal hate crime laws when they assaulted a black man.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maine says 34-year-old Maurice Diggins and 27-year-old Dusty Leo made their first appearance in federal court Monday.
The indictment says Diggins and Leo violated hate crime laws when they targeted the man because of his race, called him a racial slur and forcefully struck him in the head.
The indictment says the assault took place April 15 in a convenience store parking lot in Biddeford, where Diggins and Leo are from. It alleges the two men drove a truck into the parking lot at a high rate of speed as the man walked across the lot.
According to the indictment, Diggins got out of the truck, repeatedly called the man a racial slur, blocked his entry into the store, and circled him, turning the man's back to the truck. It goes on to say Leo then got out of the truck, walked up behind the man, and struck him forcefully in the head. The indictment alleges that as the man ran away, the two men followed him in the truck, continuing to shout racial epithets.
The case is also in the state court system.
An attorney for Diggins says his client "adamantly denies" any wrongdoing. Leo's lawyer didn't immediately call back.
If convicted, Diggins and Leo face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the hate crime charge, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.