South Carolina man gets 10 years for trying to hire hitman to lynch black neighbor
A South Carolina man was sentenced to 10 years in jail last Thursday after he tried to hire a hitman to lynch his black neighbor, according to The State.
Brandon Cory Lecroy, 26, of Greenwood County, was arrested last year after he reached out to the South Carolina branch of the Ku Klux Klan in an effort to get rid of his neighbor. An agent from a domestic terrorism task force that consisted of the FBI, state and local police then posed as a hitman and contacted Lecroy. The agent allegedly told Lecroy, "$500 and he's a ghost," in reference to the neighbor, who was only described as "FJ."
Lecroy purportedly sent photos of "FJ" to the agent and said that he wanted to "hang his neighbor from a tree" and place a "flaming cross" in the man's yard, The Post and Courier reported. Lecroy also told the agent that he wanted an untraceable gun and that he had additional targets once the job was finished, according to a complaint.
In April 2018, Lecroy met with the agent and handed over a $100 down payment. He was immediately arrested and indicted on charges of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire. Lecroy pleaded guilty later that fall.
At Lecroy's sentencing last week, his public defender Erica Soderdahl argued for leniency, claiming that he was only trying to get rid of a neighbor who constantly trespassed on his property and started fights. Soderdahl said Lecroy had reached out to local police but made contact with the KKK after not getting any assistance.
"Brandon called the KKK because who else was he going to call?" Soderdahl said. "It had nothing to do with the color of his skin."
Prosecutors, however, argued that secretly-recorded tapes by law enforcement revealed racist speech made by Lecroy, along with references to offensive KKK symbols.
"He doesn't call a biker gang," federal prosecutor William Watkins said. "It all boils down to this: he sought to eliminate his neighbor based on his race."
The judge ultimately sided with Watkins and handed Lecroy a 10-year sentence.
"It's one thing to think these thoughts, but it's a crime to undertake to do harm to another," said U.S. Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks.