Robert Paschalis, 25, of Toledo, Ohio, plead guilty Tuesday to a federal hate crime for beating a black man he saw on the street. Paschalis’s co-defendant, Charles Butler, plead guilty to the same crime on Nov. 9, officials said.
“Hate violence harms individuals and threatens the diversity of entire communities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “This vicious attack on an African-American man simply going about the routines of daily life offends human decency. We cannot undo the harms inflicted, but these convictions help vindicate everyone’s right to live free from racial violence.”
According to the complaint, on May 18, 2016, Butler and Paschalis drove past A.W. on the street while A.W. was unloading items from his truck.
The two men circled back, got out of their own truck and began attacking A.W. while yelling racial slurs. Butler grabbed a broom from the back of A.W.’s truck and struck A.W. with it multiple times.
The beating stopped only when two off-duty Ohio State Police officers happened to be on the scene and pulled Butler and Paschalis away. A.W. suffered an orbital fracture and damage to his right eye. Butler later posted to Facebook that the attack was “in the name of the White Race.”
According to the criminal complaint, Butler admits that he is a white supremacist. He has white supremacist tattoos, including the German War Eagle, a portrait of Adolf Hitler, a swastika and confederate flag.
In prison, Butler was caught with notes pertaining to the Aryan Republic Army, which was active in the 1990s in the Midwest. The group committed several bank robberies, officials said. He said he wanted to restart the Aryan Republic Army.
Butler told law enforcement that A.W. called him a “cracker” because of the confederate flag and the “Don’t Tread on Me Sticker,” according to the criminal complaint. He said A.W. hit him first and he was just defending himself.
“Even when confronted with the video surveillance that did not support his statements, Butler did not change or alter his story,” according to the complaint.
Butler said that “the fight was necessary because he was just in ‘one of those moods.'”
“Northern Ohio is a mosaic of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds,” said U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon. “This defendant tried to strike at the diversity we cherish by participating in an unprovoked attack based solely on the victim’s race. He is now likely headed to prison, while we will continue to work together to ensure that everyone’s civil rights are protected.”
“These individuals engaged in a violent assault against another person based on his race and are now being held accountable,” said Special FBI Agent in Charge in Cleveland Stephen Anthony “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure hate crimes are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law.”