PORT RICHEY, Florida — A Florida racist outraged by an interracial couple that was living next door, pleaded guilty to burning a cross on the their front yard on Halloween night five years ago.
Thomas Herris Sigler, 45, was living in a predominantly white neighborhood of Port Richey in 2012 when a black man moved in with a white woman next door, federal prosecutor said.
Sigler was so aggrieved by the situation, prosecutors say he repeatedly hurled racial epithets at him and one time even punched him in the face solely because of his race.
Then on Halloween night that year, Sigler went to a party at another neighbor’s house, where he and several others decided to burn a cross in the front yard of the interracial couple to force them to move out.
They then gathered wood and fashioned a cross on which they poured gasoline. They then carried it over to the couple’s front yard, leaned it against the mailbox and set it on fire, prosecutors said.
“It is sad that crosses are being burned in front yards in the 21st century. Acts of hatred such as this simply cannot be tolerated under law,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley.
One of the perpetrators of the hate-filled spectacle, Pascual Carlos Pietri, was arrested not long after, and in 2015, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Sigler and another man, William Dennis, 56, were indicted in September for their alleged roles in the racially-charged episode.
Both Pietri and Sigler have long rap sheets. Pietri has served time for drug trafficking, auto theft, assault and burglary. Sigler has been charged with kidnapping, sexual battery and burglary in separate cases.