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Biddeford man convicted in federal hate crime trial

In April 2018, Diggins and his nephew, Dusty Leo, committed two separate racially motivated assaults.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Following a three-day jury trial, Maurice Diggins, 36, of Biddeford, Maine, was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to commit hate crimes and of actually committing hate crimes by engaging in a series of racially motivated attacks against black men in Maine, announced the Department of Justice. 

“At trial, the government proved that Diggins conspired with his nephew, Dusty Leo, to brutally assault two men because they were black," U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank of the District of Maine said. In both cases, the men’s jaws required surgery to repair extensive damage."

According to evidence presented at trial, on April 15, 2018, defendant Diggins and his nephew, Dusty Leo (who previously pled guilty in connection with this case), committed two separate racially motivated assaults, one in Portland and one in Biddeford.

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In the Portland assault, which occurred just before 1:00 a.m., Diggins attacked a black Sudanese male without provocation, breaking the victim’s jaw. During that same incident, Diggins and Leo assaulted another black man who was standing nearby. Witnesses heard Diggins and Leo using racial epithets during the incidents.

In the second incident, which occurred approximately an hour later and approximately 20 miles away in Biddeford, defendant Diggins and Leo drove in Leo’s truck into the parking lot of a convenience store, where Diggins got out of the truck and approached a black man who was walking toward the store’s entrance. Diggins directed a racial slur at the man and distracted him while Leo got out of the truck and sucker-punched him in the jaw, knocking him to the ground. The unprovoked attack broke the victim’s jaw in several places.

Leo pleaded guilty on Feb. 25, admitting that he conspired to commit hate crimes and that he committed the hate crime against the victim in Biddeford.

Earlier Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Diggins and Leo invoked former Republican Gov. Paul LePage in a phone call in which he predicted he'd never be convicted in Maine. 

Maurice Diggins told his wife on the call that Maine people “want to keep the streets safe” and paraphrased LePage's 2016 remarks about out-of-state drug traffickers “impregnating our women and selling our kids drugs.” 

Diggins faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the two hate crime charges, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge. Leo faces the same penalties for the hate crime charge and conspiracy charge to which he pleaded guilty. They will be sentenced after the preparation of presentence investigation reports by the U.S. Probation Office.

The Biddeford Police Department and the FBI investigated the case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheila Sawyer and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Timothy Visser.

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