On December 15th, 2009, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler announced the indictment of Robert Gum and Deanna Scaglione (previously identified as Deanna Powers) on a hate crime charge of interfering with a Federally-protected activity stemming from their attack on an Alaska Native man, Eddie Barr, in downtown Anchorage on July 28th, 2009. The couple encountered Barr, exchanged words, then allegedly pelted him with bottles and eggs. They pushed and kicked him, all while taunting him with racial slurs, although Assistant U.S. Attorney Retta-Rae Randall said it was actually Scaglione who pushed and kicked Barr. They also filmed the attack and posted it on YouTube (long since taken down). Media stories by the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2. Read the two-page indictment HERE.
If convicted on the Federal hate crime charge, they each would face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Interfering with a Federally-protected activity is considered a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 245(b)(2)(B) and 2. The two are already facing state misdemeanor charges of assault and harassment, each with a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a fine of $10,000. Both Gum and Scaglione were re-arrested upon the indictment; Gum had previously bailed out and was required to get a third-party custodian. Anchorage District Attorney Adrienne Bachman said the state of Alaska will continue to prosecute its case.
-- Robert Gum's Alaska Court System entry available HERE.
-- Deanna Scaglione's Alaska Court System entry listed under Deanna Powers and available HERE.
Gum and Scaglione pleaded not guilty to the Federal charges. Both said they couldn't afford attorneys. Gum said he had $2 in his bank account and $25 to his name, and that he lives with his "auntie." Scaglione said she earns about $500 a month as a waitress at a strip club and is going through a divorce, which probably explains why she is no longer using the name Powers.
Why the reason for the sudden Federal interest in this case five months after the fact? Perhaps this is part of an expected upsurge in Federal hate crime prosecutions made possible when Barack Obama signed a stronger hate crimes bill into law in October 2009. Congressman Don Young voted for the bill because it was attached to a defense appropriations bill and it contained projects for Alaska. On December 17th, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, newly confirmed head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, said he plans to hire more than 100 employees, including more than 50 attorneys, to beef up enforcement of civil rights laws.
However, some are expressing doubt about the severity of the attack. An individual posted two comments to the KTUU story claiming the attack was exaggerated by the media (some editing to remove typos) and that the Feds are merely exploiting it:
Not a hate crime - December 18th, 2009 1:43:30 PM
The news has misinformation... Robert never touched this man he never kicked this man, he did throw a 20 ounce soda bottle at him. Robert did not target this man because he was Native.. That's just ridiculous, his girlfriend is native and his dad and 3 Sisters are Native.. This was 2 kids out being Stupid. The guy even said himself on the news that they didn't hurt him and he forgives them for picking on him. This is the Feds trying to make a example out of nothing at all. There are true criminals out there rapping kids and abusing kids that they don't make this big of a deal about them.. Come on people...
Not a hate crime - December 18th, 2009 1:28:25 PM
This was not an attack on a native because of his race. Robert has native family and friends that love him very much and he loves them. Robert admits he was wrong to pick on this man and is very sorry for any hurt feelings he may have from this. In the tape on utube Robert never kicked him nor did he touch him at all. He through a empty soda bottle at him. That is far from a HATE CRIME... The news gets misconstrued information... The Feds are just trying to make an example of this. Robert is innocent until proven guilty...
The Bottom Line: The Feds have no business sticking their nose into this case. They weren't invited, and the state is actively prosecuting. We are capable of handling it, and we previously showed our repulsion for this crime. Besides, a potential max of 10 years is completely disproportionate to the severity of the crime; it's like killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer.
This is the type of overkill that earns the Federal government the righteous and richly-deserved hatred of American patriots. The Federal government as it is presently constituted is the enemy of liberty and prosperity, and don't ever forget it.