A 25-year-old Toledo man pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime charge Tuesday in the Northern District Court of Ohio after beating an African-American stranger in the street earlier this year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
On May 18 in Toledo, Robert Paschalis and his co-defendant, Charles Butler, drove past the victim in a GMC truck bearing a small Confederate flag sticker, circled back, then attacked the man while yelling racial slurs, according to court documents. The victim was not named in any court documents.
Butler, 34, pleaded guilty to the crime Nov. 9.
The beating lasted for over a minute and was captured on the surveillance cameras of a nearby restaurant, investigators said. During the attack, Butler pulled a broom from the back of the truck and struck the victim several times with it.
Paschalis and Butler only stopped when two off-duty Ohio Public Safety Officers passed by and broke up the fight, the documents state.
The Department of Justice reported that Paschalis admitted during his plea that the beating occurred because the victim is African-American. Butler posted about the attack on Facebook afterward.
"All in the name of the White Race," the post said according to court documents. "My battle wounds will heal, but I've lived to fight another day."
The victim was hospitalized with an orbital fracture and damage to his right eye, officials said.
“Hate violence harms individuals and threatens the diversity of entire communities,” said Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general. “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.”
Court documents state that Butler was driving on the day of the attack. He claimed the victim had called him a name and raised a middle finger to him as he passed, prompting him to turn around. Investigators said Paschalis and the video evidence did not support this claim.
Investigators said in the criminal complaint that Butler is a "self-identified white supremacist" with tattoos of the German War Eagle, a portrait of Adolph Hitler, a swastika and a Confederate flag. While serving a prison sentence in 2015, white supremacist literature was seized from his cell by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.
“These individuals engaged in a violent assault against another person based on his race and are now being held accountable,” said Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge with the FBI's Cleveland Division. “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.”
Butler and Paschalis are scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Jeffrey J. Helmick on Feb. 28, 2017.