Kevin William Ridenour, 21, and Nicholas Edward Craig, 18, both of Lassen County, California, pleaded guilty on April 23 in Sacramento federal court to the hate crime of burning a cross in front of the home of an African priest.
Ridenour and Craig admitted burning a five-foot wooden cross in front of a Westwood church rectory occupied by Reverend Bernardin Mugabowakigeri, a native of Rwanda, on March 23.
The prosecution agreed to recommend a two-year sentence for Ridenour and 21 months for Craig for the felony interference with housing rights because of a person’s race.
As part of the factual recitations attached to the plea agreements, the men acknowledged talking about the Klan's use of burning crosses to intimidate African-Americans while they were actually building the cross. They admitted in their statement that they had selected the victim and location "because of the race or color of the occupant" of the rectory.
Lassen County agreed not to prosecute the pair in state court as part of the federal plea. Sentencing is scheduled for July.