A Covington County man has pleaded guilty to federal hate-crime charges by burning a cross in a predominately black residential area of Seminary to intimidate the people who live there, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Louie Bernard Revette, 37, of Seminary pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges related to his commission of a cross-burning on Oct. 24, 2017. He pleaded guilty to one count of interference with housing rights, a federal civil rights violation, and one count of using fire during the commission of a federal felony. Sentencing has been scheduled for Aug. 20.

“The defendant’s racially motivated actions sought to threaten and intimidate the peaceful residents of this community,” said Assistant Attorney Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate abhorrent and hateful acts of intimidation, and we will continue to prosecute anyone who commits a hate crime to the fullest extent of the law.”

In his plea, Revette admitted that he traveled to what he knew to be a predominantly African-American residential area of Seminary. He admitted that he left the area, later recruiting a co-conspirator to build a cross to burn near the home of a juvenile victim identified only as “M.H.” Revette and the co-conspirator constructed the cross using materials from in and around Revette’s residence, then placed the cross near M.H.’s home and lit it on fire. 

Revette also admitted that he built and burned the cross to threaten, frighten and intimidate M.H. and other African-American residents because of their race and color, and because those individuals lived in and occupied residences in that area of Seminary. Revette acknowledged that he knew burning crosses have historically been used to threaten, frighten, and intimidate African-Americans.

“Terrorizing our neighbors and entire communities based on race is a federal crime that will be vigorously prosecuted by this office,” said U. S. Attorney Mike Hurst for the Southern District of Mississippi. “I applaud our law enforcement for quickly investigating and bringing this defendant to justice. There is no place in our state or our country for this type of hatred, and we will not tolerate individuals making others live in fear because of the color of their skin.”

Revette faces a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the two charges. 

“While wounds are still healing from Mississippi’s past, incidents such as this only serve as setbacks and should be fully condemned in every community,” said Christopher Freeze, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi. “The FBI stands firm that those who commit these reprehensible crimes will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted.”

This case was investigated by the FBI Jackson Division’s Hattiesburg Resident Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace Gregory Mayberry for the Southern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Julia Gegenheimer from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.

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