During a federal hate crime investigation stemming from an incident on June 19, 2015, Diego Martinez, 28, of Dodge City, pleaded guilty Thursday to making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case was regarding a bias-motivated assault of three black Somali men in Dodge City.
"Hate violence not only harms individuals but also threatens the diversity of our society and the well-being of our communities," said acting assistant attorney general Tom Wheeler for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a press release.
"The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes, and to pursue defendants who, like Mr. Martinez, obstruct the investigations into those crimes."
Martinez admitted during the plea hearing, that during an interview conducted on October 2015 about the investigation, he had provided the FBI with a false alibi for the time of the assault, specifically, telling the FBI that he had been with an unknown woman at the time of the attack on the Somali men.
Martinez also admitted he had falsely told the FBI that his cell phone had stopped working shortly after the assault, when, in fact, he had used his phone to contact one of the other suspects who perpetrated the attack.
At the time he made the statements to the FBI, Martinez admitted that he knew these statements were false and that they were material to the FBI’s investigation into the attack.
Sentencing of Martinez will take place on June 1.
He faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
In April 2016, Martinez, along with Omar Cantero Martinez, 31, and Armando Sotelo, 24, both of Dodge City, were charged with federal hate crimes for attacking three Somali men because of their race and national origin.
Sotelo and Omar Cantero Martinez were sentenced for the hate crimes on Feb. 22.
Sotelo pled guilty to one hate crime count while Omar Cantero Martinez pled to one count of perjury for falsely testifying at the trial that he had been acting in self-defense.
Trial Attorney Risa Berkower and Special Litigation Counsel Jared Fishman of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, with assistance from Assistant US Attorney Mona Furst of the District of Kansas, is prosecuting the case.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Garden City resident agency with assistance from the Dodge City Police and the Ford County Sheriff’s Office.