Man gets 3 years for burning cross

Posted at 8:16 AM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 08:21:41-04

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A Tampa Bay area man has been sentenced to just over three years in prison for burning a cross in front of a black neighbor's home.

Local news outlets report that a federal judge in Tampa sentenced 54-year-old Pascual Pietri to 37 months on Wednesday for a civil rights violation. A day earlier, Pietri was sentenced to 51 months for a May 2014 bank robbery. The sentences will be served concurrently.

A plea agreement states that Pietri and two other residents of a Port Richey neighborhood built a cross, doused it in gasoline and set it on fire next to the mailbox of an interracial couple's home on Halloween 2012. Pietri was the only suspect charged.

Cross burning has historically been used by hate groups to intimidate black people.

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