Three Texas Men Sentenced to Jail for Using Dating App to Target Gay Men for Violent Crimes | Takeover bid


Three Texas men were convicted of violent crimes yesterday.

Michael Atkinson, 28, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, 21, and Daryl Henry, 24, were sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in a scheme to target gay men for violent crimes. Atkinson was sentenced to over 11 years in prison, Ceniceros-Deleon was sentenced to 22 years in prison and Henry to 20 years in prison.

“These three men participated in and committed acts of violence against innocent victims because they believed the victims were gay men,” said Deputy Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “This type of prejudiced violence is against our values ​​and violates our federal civil rights laws. The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will aggressively investigate and prosecute those who target members of the LGBTQI community.

“These defendants brutalized several victims, distinguishing them on the basis of their sexual orientation. We cannot let this kind of violence escalate unchecked, ”said Interim US Attorney Prerak Shah for the North Texas District. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting hate crimes. In the meantime, we urge users of dating apps to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, predators often hide online.

“One of the top priorities of the FBI is to defend the civil rights of the communities we serve. We are actively working with our law enforcement partners to investigate hate crimes and obtain justice for the victims affected by these violent crimes, ”said Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI Field Office in Dallas. “The victims in this case were specifically targeted because of their sexual orientation. The FBI wants to reassure the public that we will prosecute individuals who commit acts of violent hate against any member of our community. “

According to documents filed in connection with this case, these three defendants admitted to conspiring and then targeting up to nine men in and around Dallas, Texas, for violent crimes, including kidnappings, carjackings and robberies. hate crimes. On or around December 6, 2017, members of this plot used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure men into an apartment complex in Dallas. When the men arrived, the conspirators held the men at gunpoint and forced them to go to local ATMs to withdraw money from their accounts.

Atkinson and Henry have admitted to joining this plot to target gay men for violent crimes. On December 11, 2017, the conspirators used Grindr to lure five men into a vacant apartment in Dallas where they held the men at gunpoint, kidnapped, hijacked, and assaulted them. As part of his plea deal, Henry admitted that he used violence and threats of violence to keep the victims in the backroom and closet of the vacant apartment while other conspirators used the vehicles of victims to go to local ATMs to steal money from victims. accounts. Atkinson and Ceniceros-Deleon have admitted to traveling in the hijacked vehicles to withdraw money from victims’ accounts. While the victims were at gunpoint, some were physically assaulted, at least one victim was sexually assaulted, and all of the victims were taunted with homosexual slurs.

In 2019, Atkinson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking, and one count of kidnapping.

Ceniceros-Deleon pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count of hate crime, one count of carjacking and one count of using a firearm during and in connection with a violent crime.

Henry pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count of hate crime and one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking.

A final member of the conspiracy will be sentenced on October 6, 2021. The latter conspirator, Daniel Jenkins, pleaded guilty on June 3 to a hate crime offense; conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnappings and carjackings; and the use of a firearm during and in connection with a violent crime. Under the plea deal, Jenkins faces a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison.

The local FBI office in Dallas conducted the federal investigation; a separate criminal investigation is being conducted by the Dallas Police Department. Special Litigation Advocate Rose E. Gibson and Trial Lawyer Kathryn Gilbert of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, as well as Deputy U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana, are continuing the case.

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