A Florida man who threatened to burn down a house in his neighborhood if a Muslim family bought it must pay them $30,000 in restitution and serve eight months in prison.
David H. Howard, 59, blamed the bigotry on mental and physical illness.
"I have a terminal illness," Howard said in court before he was sentenced Tuesday, according to The Tampa Bay Times. "I’m dying of AIDS."
Because he is sick, a judge is sending him to a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, which treats inmates with serious medical conditions. Howard said he had been taking testosterone supplements to combat rapid weight loss, a side effect of the illness, at the time of the threats. He blamed the increase in testosterone for the outburst at the Asgar family.
"I’m a good person. This incident just happened, and I wish I could undo it," he said.
Kaderbhai Ali Asgar and Sehera Ali Asgar, who are of Indian descent, planned in 2016 to purchase a two-story, $658,000 property in Davis Islands, an upscale community in Tampa. They wore traditional Indian clothing while doing a final walk-through of their dream home, and ended up getting harassed and threatened by Howard, who later admitted to accosting the couple.
"This sale will not take place," Howard shouted to the couple and their realtors, according to the U.S. Justice Department. "I will break all of your f------ windows and I will burn your f------ house down! You are not welcome here!"
Howard also called the couple "dotheads."
His tirade scared the couple so much that they canceled the sale, losing a $30,000 deposit, which Howard will now have to pay back.
Howard pleaded guilty to a hate crime for the incident in February.
“Individuals and families should have the right to live wherever they choose, without intimidation or fear,” Maria Chapa Lopez, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, said in February. “Crimes perpetrated against people because of their race, ethnicity, color, or religious beliefs simply cannot be tolerated. And, we will prosecute those who commit these crimes to the fullest extent possible.”
The Asgars were pleased with the punishment.
"I’m very happy that the judge did a very fair judgment," Kaderbhai Ali Asgar told The Tampa Bay Times after the verdict came down.
[Photo: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
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