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Federal court sentences man for hate crimes against two Black women in Florida

Florida – Frederick Eugene Pierallini III, a 27-year-old Florida resident, was sentenced yesterday to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. This sentencing is a consequence of his guilty plea on July 6, 2023, for committing two federal hate crimes by attacking two Black women with a firearm on separate occasions.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division emphasized the gravity of the offenses, stating, “The defendant is being held accountable for targeting two Black women with a gun on two separate days because of their race.” This act not only endangered the victims but also raised concerns in their communities, reinforcing fears that public spaces are no longer safe from racially motivated violence.

U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg for the Middle District of Florida echoed these sentiments, condemning the actions as intolerable. “There is no place in our society for such heinous acts,” he asserted, stressing the commitment of law enforcement to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate such crimes based on race, ethnicity, or beliefs.

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Michael D. Nordwall, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, pointed out the broader impact of such crimes, noting they are designed to threaten and intimidate entire communities, not just the direct victims.

The court documents reveal that Pierallini willfully intimidated the victims and interfered with their right to enjoy federally protected activities due to their race and color. The first incident occurred on September 10, 2022, at a convenience store in Jacksonville, Florida, where the first victim was working as a clerk. After a confrontation over a declined card and attempted theft, Pierallini escalated the situation by retrieving a shotgun from his car, aiming it at the victim, and cocking it while hurling racial slurs. The victim fortunately escaped physical harm by fleeing the scene.

Two days later, on September 12, Pierallini targeted another Black woman who was sitting in her walker on a public sidewalk. After directing racial slurs at her and making death threats, he left and returned with a shotgun, firing a single shot. The second victim fell to the ground in response, sustaining injuries, though she was not struck by the shot.

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The FBI Jacksonville Field Office, along with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, led the investigation into these hate crimes. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Washington for the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Anna Gotfryd of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section. Their diligent efforts have brought a measure of justice to the victims and underscored the legal system’s commitment to combating hate-based violence.

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