Robert Paschalis, 25, of Toledo, Ohio, pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime for beating an African-American stranger he saw on the street. Paschalis’s co-defendant, Charles Butler, pleaded guilty to the same crime on Nov. 9.
The plea was announced by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon of the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.
According to his guilty plea, on May 18, 2016, Paschalis and Butler drove past the victim, A.W., on the street while A.W. was unloading items from his truck. The two men circled back, got out of their own truck and began attacking A.W. while yelling racial slurs. Butler grabbed a broom from the back of A.W.’s truck and struck A.W. with it multiple times. Paschalis admitted during his plea that the beating occurred because A.W. is African American.
The beating stopped only when two off-duty Ohio state police officers happened on the scene and pulled Butler and Paschalis away. A.W. suffered an orbital fracture and damage to his right eye. Butler later posted on Facebook that the attack was “in the name of the White Race.”
“Hate violence harms individuals and threatens the diversity of entire communities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “This vicious attack on an African-American man simply going about the routines of daily life offends human decency. We cannot undo the harms inflicted, but these convictions help vindicate everyone’s right to live free from racial violence.”
“Northern Ohio is a mosaic of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds,” said U.S. Attorney Rendon. “This defendant tried to strike at the diversity we cherish by participating in an unprovoked attack based solely on the victim’s race. He is now likely headed to prison, while we will continue to work together to ensure that everyone’s civil rights are protected.”
“These individuals engaged in a violent assault against another person based on his race and are now being held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure hate crimes are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law.”
This case is being investigated by the FBI Cleveland Division’s Toledo Resident Agency, in cooperation with the Toledo Police Department and the Lucas County, Ohio, Prosecutor’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman of the Northern District of Ohio and Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.