Marion cross burning suspect pleads guilty

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ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) — The man accused of burning a cross at someone else’s home in Marion last year pleaded guilty to a charge in federal court Thursday.

James Brown, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal interference with federally protected housing rights based upon the victim’s race.

Investigators say Brown burned a cross in the front yard of an African American family, a member of which had recently organized a civil rights protest in Marion.

Brown admitted to burning the cross to two witnesses and was known to use racial epithets when referring to the family, according to prosecutors.

“Acts of hatred, intimidation and the threat of force, carried out by the racially motivated cross burning in this case, illegally interfered with their federally protected housing rights,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bubar said in a release. “This illegal, divisive behavior destroys communities and will not be tolerated. I’m proud of the work of the FBI and our state partners, who brought James Brown to justice.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, Marion Police Department, and Smyth County Sheriff’s Office.

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