Thursday, March 01, 2012

Hate Crime: Three tied to neo-Nazi group charged with 1998 racially motivated murders

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department announced today that Ross Hack, 40, Leland Jones, 31, and Melissa Hack, 37, have been charged with first-degree murder and firearms offenses in relation to the 1998 deaths of Lin Newborn and Daniel Shersty. The murders took place on land owned and managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management within the Las Vegas northwest valley.

According to the indictment, which was unsealed today, between on or about July 3 and July 4, 1998, Ross Hack, Leland Jones, Melissa Hack, and others not named in the indictment allegedly aided and abetted each other in the premeditated shooting and killing of the two victims. The government expects to introduce evidence at trial that the defendants were affiliated or associated with racist neo-Nazi “skinhead” groups at the time of the murders, and that Newborn, who was African-American, and Shersty, who was white, were members of the Anti-Racist Action Group, which is also known as the Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARPS). Both victims were in their 20s at the time of their deaths.

A third man, John Butler, was convicted of the murders of Newborn and Shersty by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in 2000 and is serving two consecutive life sentences in state prison.

“This case demonstrates that the Department of Justice will be vigilant in working to ensure that every perpetrator of racially motivated violence is brought to justice,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I commend the partnership between federal and local law enforcement agencies that led to the charges in this indictment and for continuing to investigate circumstances surrounding the victims’ deaths.”

“I commend the law enforcement agents and detectives for their persistence and efforts in this investigation,” said Daniel G. Bogden, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada. “We will pursue the prosecution of these defendants with equal vigor.”

“This week’s indictments and arrests in the brutal murders of Daniel Shertsy and Lin Newborn would not have been possible without the extraordinary effort and dedication of the FBI agents, Metro detectives, and DOJ prosecutors who have worked on this matter,” said Kevin Favreau, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Las Vegas. “Even though it was difficult, and it took a very long time to fully investigate, the FBI and Metro never gave up on this case. And with the support of outstanding prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., the public can rest assured that all those responsible for the murders of Daniel Shertsy and Lin Newborn will finally face justice.”

Ross Hack and Melissa Hack face potential penalties of life in prison or death. Jones, who was not yet 18 years old at the time of the murders, faces a potential penalty of life in prison.

This case is being investigated by the Las Vegas Division of the FBI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Bliss of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada and Trial Attorney Patricia Sumner of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the government at trial.