Missouri man gets 2 years for hate crimes directed at mosque

2 years 2 months 2 days ago Wednesday, July 25 2018 Jul 25, 2018 Wednesday, July 25, 2018 7:45:00 AM CDT July 25, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A Missouri man who pleaded guilty to making threatening phone calls to a Georgia mosque has been sentenced to two years in prison.

In a statement Tuesday, federal prosecutors said 50-year-old Preston Q. Howard, of Wright City, made numerous calls last year to the Islamic Society of Augusta in which he threatened to kill members of the mosque and "blow up" the mosque.

Howard acknowledged committing the acts and obstructing or attempting to obstruct the mosque members' free exercise of their religious beliefs, the news release said.

"Threats made against houses of worship are abhorrent and this Office will work tirelessly to ensure that members of all faiths may worship in peace and without intimidation," said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine.

Prosecutors said Howard's sentence was enhanced because Howard chose his victims based on their religion and "thereby committing a hate crime."

When imposing the sentence, U.S. District Chief Judge J. Randal Hall noted Howard's "disturbing pattern of intolerance of many groups of people."

The Augusta Chronicle reports Hall told Howard that his actions were "terribly offensive."

"Whatever faith you chose — that goes to the heart of who we are as a nation," Hall said during Tuesday's sentencing hearing.

Howard told the judge and members of the mosque who attended the hearing that he was embarrassed and ashamed.

"For each one of you, I apologize," Howard said.

During the seven and a half months he has been held without bond, Howard began to study Islam, he said, adding he understands that terrorists do not represent all Muslims.

Hall pressed Howard, however. What he saw in the pre-sentencing report, he said, was a man of intolerance. "When you're released from prison, who's next?" Hall asked.

Howard responded, "I am definitely not the same person."

Defense attorney Hank Crane had asked Hall to take into account the change in Howard's attitude. Howard had no criminal history and stopped calling the mosque once confronted by FBI agents in August 2017, Crane said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Greenwood asked Hall to consider not only the vile messages left over a three-month period, but also other indications of Howard's intolerance — such as Confederate battle flag stickers covering his mailbox and the sticker of the president with a Hitler-style mustache overlaying a swastika, and similar messages and symbols on his three Facebook pages.

Hall granted the federal prosecutor's request to go above the federal sentencing guideline range of 15 to 21 months. He also ordered Howard to immediately reimburse the mosque members for nearly $30,000 spent to increase security.

Speaking on the mosque's behalf, Dr. Hossam Fadel told the judge that the members refused to let fear take them away from their faith.

Founded in 1976, the mosque has grown into a community that provides food, clothing and medical care to those in need, opened a full-time school and opened its doors to everyone in the community.

"We are part and parcel of the ... community," Fadel said.

More News

Grid
List
STE. GENEVIEVE - Blair Oaks' 51 regular season game win streak ended against Valle Catholic on Friday. Blair Oaks fell... More >>
14 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 8:47:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in Friday Night Fever
(CNN) -- Covid-19 vaccinations could start as early as November, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said... More >>
14 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 7:55:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia’s Goodwill Excel Center Hosted its very first commencement ceremony. The Goodwill Excel Center is a free... More >>
15 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 7:51:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Nine television stations have pulled an ad criticizing Democratic candidate for Missouri governor Nicole Galloway. ... More >>
17 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 5:47:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
MID-MISSOURI - Week five of Friday Night Fever is here. Before you head out to your team's game or tune... More >>
17 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 5:42:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in Sports
O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel is weighing the fate of a sweeping Missouri abortion law, including... More >>
17 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 5:15:01 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
Welcome to Week 5 of Friday Night Fever! Our game of the week features the Eldon Mustangs travelling to Southern... More >>
17 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 4:55:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in Friday Night Fever
Below are scores from high school football games from across mid-Missouri. Check out KOMU 8's liveblog with updates from some... More >>
17 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 4:54:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in Friday Night Fever
ASHLAND - It's Thursday morning. Head football coach Trent Tracy gets to Southern Boone High School to turn on the... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 4:10:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in Friday Night Fever
MOUNT VERNON, Mo. (AP) — Nine people have been indicted by a grand jury in connection with the kidnapping and... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 4:05:38 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- President Donald Trump intends to choose Amy Coney Barrett to be the new Supreme Court justice, according to... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 3:16:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City firefighters responded to a structure fire in the 400 block of Marshall Street Friday morning... More >>
22 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 12:12:00 PM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
As COVID-19 continues to spread, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about impacts in the community. Previous coverage: ... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 11:09:00 AM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA-- A group of University of Missouri students is holding a sit-in Friday on Mel Carnahan Quadrangle on the MU... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 10:13:00 AM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
MONITEAU COUNTY - One man is in custody after a police pursuit through mid-Missouri Wednesday. Matthew Scovell, 40, of... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 9:55:00 AM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
MISSOURI- As COVID-19 continues to spread, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about impacts in the community. The... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 9:00:00 AM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- At least 41 people are sick in 10 different states after a salmonella outbreak that has been linked... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 8:57:53 AM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the first woman in American history to lie in state... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 25 2020 Sep 25, 2020 Friday, September 25, 2020 8:25:00 AM CDT September 25, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 68°
11am 73°
12pm 77°
1pm 81°
2pm 84°