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Utah man charged with racially-oriented hate crimes

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By Tom Harvey

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 14 2014 06:02PM
Updated Apr 14, 2014 09:10PM

A 70-year-old Hurricane man is facing criminal charges for hate crimes in state and federal court for allegedly writing threatening letters to neighbors in a housing complex after an African-American male moved in with his sister and her husband.

Robert Keller was charged Monday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City with a misdemeanor violation of the Fair Housing Act. Keller also faces a state misdemeanor charge of harassment in state court in Washington County.

Keller in December allegedly wrote two threatening notes to the interracial family that was living in Quail Lake Estates in Hurricane after the brother of the woman involved moved in with them. One handwritten note left at the complex’s clubhouse used the n-word, though it was misspelled.

"If I catch that [n-word] around my daughter, I’ll kill the ass h--- and then come find what stupid person brought him here in the first place," the letter said, according to a probable cause statement from a Hurricane police officer.

Another note found on the family vehicle also made racist remarks, the statement says.

The investigating officer said video from a surveillance camera allowed the couple to identify Keller, who lived in the same complex. He was charged with a state crime on Dec. 31.

Jeanetta Williams, president of the Tri-State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she brought the case to the attention of federal authorities after receiving a complaint from the couple.

After an investigation by the FBI and Hurricane police, the federal charge also was filed against Keller.

tharvey@sltrib.com

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