Lansdowne Man Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violation
Billy Ray Pratt, Jr., 24, faces up to 10 years in prison for hanging a dead raccoon from a noose on a neighbor's porch.
A Lansdowne man has pleaded guilty for his role in hanging a dead raccoon on the porch of a family from Africa, according to officials at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Billy Ray Pratt, Jr., 24, of the 300-block of Fourth Avenue, faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine for conspiracy to deprive a person of civil rights. He faces sentencing Aug. 17.
Two other co-conspirators were charged in the incident. Joshua Wall, 20, of Essex, pleaded guilty on March 5 and faces the same maximum penalty, officials said.
According to a statement of facts signed by Pratt as part of his plea, between April 26-30, 2010, Pratt, Wall and three others conspired to intimidate and threaten a family because of their color.
At the time, Pratt was living with friends in Middle River. On April 26, his host's son got into a fight with a black juvenile who lived in the neighborhood. After the fight, Pratt and others went to the scene and used racial slurs and threats directed at the family, according to the statement.
Later, the group went home and hatched a scheme to hang a raccoon from the family's porch. According to the statement of facts, Pratt drove around for two days until he found a dead raccoon.
On April 29, Pratt, Wall and another man tied a noose around the raccoon carcass and, in the middle of the night, walked over to the victim family's house and hung it from the porch, court documents said.
According to officials, Pratt and the others discussed and understood the racial significance of their act, and its intent to frighten the victims.
The victim family explored the idea of moving but ultimately stayed in the neighborhood, officials said.