ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Two men accused of branding a mentally disabled Navajo man with a swastika pleaded guilty to federal hate-crime charges Thursday.
Paul Beebe pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime and faces up to 10 years in prison.
Jesse Sanford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a hate crime and could be sentenced to five years.
Under the plea agreement both men's sentences will run concurrently with the state charges. A sentencing date has not been set.
Beebe, Sanford and a third man, William Hatch, all played a role in the branding of a swastika into a Navajo man's arm April 2010.
In May a Farmington District Court jury found Hatch guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, a fourth-degree felony. He was acquitted of more serious charges including kidnapping.
Then in June Hatch pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime.
During the plea hearing Thursday, Beebe and Sanford admitted Beebe took the victim to Beebe's apartment, which was adorned in racist paraphernalia including a Nazi flag and a woven dream catcher with a swastika in it. After the victim had fallen asleep, the defendants began defacing the his body by drawing on him with blue, red, and black markers.
Once the victim awoke and had a towel stuff in his mouth, Beebe branded him by heating a wire hanger on a stove and burning a permanent deep impression of a swastika in his skin.
Beebe and Sanford then used a cell phone to create a coerced recording of the victim saying he agreed to be branded.
The pair also admitted that they defaced the victim's body with white supremacist and anti-Native American symbols, shavied a swastika in the back of the his head and used a marker to write the words "KKK" and "White Power" within the lines of the swastika.
Continuing to mock the victim's heritage, Beebe and Sanford drew an ejaculating penis and testicles on the victim's back while telling him that they were drawing his "native pride feathers," according to prosecutors They recorded the incident on a cell phone to later play.
These guilty pleas were the result of a cooperative effort among the U.S. Attorney's Office, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the San Juan County District Attorney's Office. This case was investigated by the FBI in cooperation with the Farmington Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto Ortega for the District of New Mexico and Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Fara Gold of the Civil Rights Division.
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