The last of three men convicted in taking part in a racist campaign to assault minorities to intimidate them said he had aspired to be a high school English teacher when he was arrested and charged in connection with two assaults.
Travis Massey told a federal judge Friday that hatred and bigotry have never been a motivating factor in his life and maintained that he was not a criminal and will not allow prison to make him a criminal.
Despite that claim, a federal judge sentenced Massey to serve close to five years in federal prison for assaulting two men based on their race.
Massey, along with Shaun Walker and Eric Egbert were found guilty by a federal jury last April in the beatings of two men outside of two Salt Lake City bars as part of a conspiracy to spread fear among Utah minorities and to spark a "race war."
Walker is the former chairman of the West Virginia-based National Alliance, which espouses anti-immigration and racial separatist rhetoric. Massey held himself out as the Utah chapter leader for the National Alliance.
Federal prosecutors claim that Massey was present at two beatings, the first at the O'Shucks bar on New Year's Eve in 2002 in which the bartender, of Hispanic descent, was dragged out of the bar and beaten by at least four men. The second was the March 2002 brutal beating of a Native American man outside Port O'Call. Both men were beaten unconscious.
Walker was sentenced to serve 87 months in federal prison and Egbert has been sentenced to serve 42 months.
During a sentencing hearing Friday, Massey's attorney Deidre Gorman said Massey served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps and was honorably discharged. He was two semesters away from graduating from college when he was arrested and had always "lived his life above board." Massey himself said he had planned to become a high school teacher and wanted to teach literature when he graduated.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Curran said of the men, "they were all violent" and held the "reprehensible view" that people who weren't white didn't deserve a place in society.
After a lengthy hearing on federal sentencing guidelines, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson sentenced Massey to 57 months in federal prison, the lowest end of the guidelines. Benson said while he found there was evidence of conspiracy, racial motivation and restraint of victims, he did not believe Massey played a leadership role in the assaults.
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