Shepard T. Hoehn, 50, of Lawrence was charged in the federal district court for making threats to intimidate and interfere with his Black neighbor due to the neighbor’s race. He also was charged with two counts of unlawfully possessing firearms.
Hoehn allegedly intimidated and interfered with his Black neighbor’s right to occupy his home due to his race. Hoehn is alleged to have created and displayed a swastika on a fence facing the neighbor’s property; placed and burned a cross above the fence line facing the neighbor’s property; created and displayed a large sign next to the swastika containing a variety of anti-Black racial slurs; visibly displayed a machete near the sign; and loudly played the song “Dixie” on repeat.
United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced the charges Aug. 6.
“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,” Minkler stated. “This office will continue to prosecute federal hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”
The Lawrence Police Dept. and the FBI were called to investigate. According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, during the investigation, Hoehn acknowledged he was angry about a dispute with the neighbor and knew his actions would cause his neighbor to feel intimidated and be afraid.
Federal and local law enforcement executed search warrants at Hoehn’s residence. During the search, several firearms and drug paraphernalia were located. Agents also discovered that Hoehn was a fugitive from a case in Missouri, and federal law prohibited Hoehn from possessing firearms.
If convicted, Hoehn faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the three charged offenses.