Thursday, September 09, 2010

Robert Gum And Deanna Scaglione Sentenced To Prison For Federal Hate Crime Assault Against Alaska Native; Sentencing On State Charges Next

On September 9th, 2010, the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2 and KTVA Channel 11 reported that Robert Gum and Deanna Scaglione have been sentenced to prison for the Federal hate crime assault committed against an Alaska Native, Eddie Barr, in downtown Anchorage on July 28th, 2009. The 19-year-old Gum was sentenced to 20 months in prison, while the 21-year-old Scaglione, once known as Deanna Powers, was sentenced to 16 months. Both were also given three years of probation.

For more background on this case, you can read my previous posts from August 14th, 2009 and December 19th, 2009 and June 8th, 2010. Note that the victim was previously identified by the media by his full name; why they're now only referring to him by his initials is unclear. Only Alaska Dispatch refers to him by name in this thought-provoking article.

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, and they also filmed the attack and posted it on YouTube. A woman who helped raise Scaglione after her mother died learned of the attack and called Crime Stoppers, leading to the arrest of the two. The state of Alaska initially preferred misdemeanor charges of assault and harassment, each with a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a fine of $10,000, but deferred prosecution when the Feds decided to jump in and prefer hate crime charges. Gum and Scaglione were prosecuted for Interference With Federally-Protected Activity, a crime carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

-- The original two-page Federal indictment is still available HERE
-- 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 initially pleaded not guilty to the Federal charges, but ultimately changed their minds and pleaded guilty on June 8th, 2010. Then on July 2nd, 2010, the two pleaded guilty to state charges of assault and harassment. They will be sentenced in state court on September 22nd, and most likely serve their state sentences after their Federal sentences are complete.

Update November 1st: On October 28th, 2010, Robert Gum and Deanna Scaglione were sentenced to spend 180 days behind bars for assault and harassment. It was not specified whether or not it would be concurrent with the Federal sentence. Most likely they'll serve this sentence when their Federal time is done.

It turns out that Robert Gum is not necessarily white, at least not by racial definition, although by his photo he looks white. In a plea for leniency, Gum's grandfather wrote that Gum recognized that he had done something very wrong and needed to make amends. But he said his grandson has many Native family members and is "not a racist", but was merely trying to get street cred from his friends. But after a heartfelt plea from the victim, U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess called the nature of Gum and Scaglione's crime "disturbing." Judge Burgess said their conduct was offensive to the fundamental principles of our country and was motivated by hate.

Analysis: Proponents of Federal hate crimes laws like to play the funding card. They'll say that when the Feds take over a criminal case and prosecute it under Federal law, then they pay the bill instead of the state (neglecting to tell us that it all comes from the same source in the first place; namely, us taxpayers). But that argument only works if the state chooses to waive prosecution.

Since the state of Alaska chose not to waive prosecution, that means we paid for both a Federal prosecution AND a state prosecution for the same crime. Federal hate crimes laws are merely an excuse to impose greater Federal control and tyranny upon us.

It's Miller time!


  1. The reason I think all hate crime legislation is shit is because it makes illegal certain thoughts. I do not see why what you commit a crime for, has any bearing on the sentencing. If I were to kill someone, whether for profit or because I did not like that person's skin color should make no difference. Either way I committed a crime and the punishment should be the same. Instead of making crimes of hate more punishable just make all of it that punishment and do away with the why of any crime.

    It seems silly to complain about why someone did this or that, we should focus on what they did not the why of their actions.

  2. the legal principal of "double jeopardy" has been imparted on these offenders. Having two separate branches of govt charging them for the same crime is a constitutional violation.

  3. Cooganalaska. This is not double jeopardy because the federal and state charges are different. If they where prosecuted by the feds for assault and then by the state that would be double jeopardy.

    I agree with the hate crimes legislation. There are many reasons to hurt someone, but to hurt someone based solely on race or creed or sex is despicable. The reasoning is demented and should not be acceptable. Hate crime legislation does make thoughts illegal it makes your actions based on those thoughts illegal. In our justice system the "why" of the crime will determine your sentence. How do you think they determine between first, second, or third degree murder?

  4. should read" does not make your thoughts illegal."