TOPEKA, Kan. - Two Kansas men pleaded guilty Wednesday, July 2, to taking part in a small town high school graduation party that turned into a drunken incident in which a black student was tied and taunted with racial epithets.
David B. Endsley, 19, Waterville, Kan., and Isaac Q. Clark, 19, Blue Rapids, Kan., both pleaded guilty to one count of criminal interference with right to fair housing.
Endsley also pleaded guilty to one county of making a false statement to federal agents who investigated the incident.
Andrew S. Ralph, 21, Concordia, Kan., also has been charged in the incident and is awaiting trial.
In their pleas, Endsley and Clark admitted that by their actions and their words they sought to drive J.L., an African-American juvenile, from the community of Waterville and Blue Rapids, Kan., because of his race.
"The freedom to live where you choose is a right protected by federal law," said U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren. "It is unlawful to attempt to deny that right by injury, threat, or intimidation based on a person's race, color, religion, handicap, familial status or national origin. The U.S. Department of Justice will be very aggressive in protecting these rights."
According to the plea agreement, on May 19, 2007, Endsley and his parents hosted a large high school graduation party at their residence in Waterville, Kan., which is part of the Waterville/Blue Rapids community. Most of the people at the party, including the defendants and the victim, consumed alcohol.
About 2 a.m., the defendants found J.L. asleep on the ground and put him in a lawn chair.
Endsley said that he was going to "tie the n****r up." While the victim was tied, the defendants directed racial slurs at him and urinated on him. They used a can of spray paint to paint the victim's arms and legs white. They told the victim he should "go back home" and go back where he came from before he moved to the Waterville and Blue Rapids area.
On August 13, 2007, an FBI agent interviewed Endsley about the incident. Endsley falsely denied witnessing or participating in the incident.
Sentencing is set for September 30, 2008. The maximum penalty for criminal interference with the right to fair housing is one year in federal prison and a fine up to $100,000.
The maximum penalty for making a false statement to federal authorities is five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Melgren commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Kathleen Monaghan and Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Hendershot for their work on the case.