Washington - The US Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury returned multiple indictments for the racially-motivated fatal beating of Luis Ramirez, a Latino male, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania committed by a group of teenagers.
Senator Menendez, strong advocate on behalf of federal prosecution of alleged hate crimes and co-sponsor of legislation that passed earlier this year to give federal law enforcement greater ability to become involved in and prosecute these types of crimes, applauded the indictment.
"I am glad to see that our federal justice system will have a full opportunity to judge this case. There is certainly strong evidence of a hate crime in this case, and we know that the federal courts are the best venue for judgement of alleged hate crimes and for protection of civil rights. When someone is brutally killed simply because of their race or ethnicity, it's a crime against an entire community and our nation's values. This is why alleged hate crimes need special attention from federal law enforcement and courts, and this is why the new Matthew Shepard law is so important."
Earlier this year Senator Menendez joined a coalition of national groups and Senators who called on the United States Department of Justice to pursue a broad and comprehensive investigation surrounding the beating and brutal murder of 25 year old, father of two, Luis Ramirez. Ramirez lost his life in July 2008, after he was knocked unconscious and kicked in the head by a group of Shenandoah teenagers who yelled racial epithets before and during the brutal beating.
The first indictment charges Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky with a federal hate crime for fatally beating Luis Ramirez while shouting racial epithets at him. The indictment also alleges that, immediately following the beating, Donchak, Piekarsky and others, including members of the Shenandoah Police Department, participated in a scheme to obstruct the investigation of the fatal assault. As a result of this alleged obstruction, Donchak is charged in three additional counts for conspiring to obstruct justice and related offenses. If convicted, Piekarsky and Donchak face a maximum penalty of life in prison on the hate crime charge. Donchak faces 20 years in prison on each of the obstruction charges and an additional five years in prison for conspiring to obstruct justice.
A second indictment charges Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor, Lt. William Moyer and Police Officer Jason Hayes with conspiring to obstruct justice during the investigation into the fatal beating of Ramirez. Moyer has also been charged with witness and evidence tampering, and with lying to the FBI.If convicted, the defendants face 20 years in prison on each of the obstruction charges and an additional five years in prison for conspiring to obstruct justice. Moyer faces an additional five years in prison for making false statements to the FBI.
A third indictment charges Chief Nestor and his second-in-command, Captain Jamie Gennarini, with multiple counts of extortion and civil rights violations. According to that indictment, from 2004 through 2007, Nestor conspired to extort cash payments from several illegal gambling operations in the Shenandoah area and obstructed the investigation of the extortion scheme. The indictment also alleges that on May 17, 2007, Nestor and Gennarini committed extortion by demanding a $2,000 cash payment from a local businessman and his family in exchange for releasing the businessman from their custody.