A federal grand jury in Columbia, South Carolina, returned an indictment today charging two South Carolina men with hate crimes in connection with a string of bias-motivated armed robberies targeting Hispanic victims.
According to court documents, beginning in January 2021 and continuing through February 2021, Charles Antonio Clippard, 26, and Michael Joseph Knox, 28, both of Columbia, conspired to target people the defendants identified as Mexican or Hispanic at places of public accommodation, including gas stations and grocery stores. After identifying these targets, the defendants would rob their victims at gunpoint. The indictment alleges that the defendants committed three armed robberies as part of the conspiracy, including one carjacking, because of the victims’ race and national origin and because those individuals were using places of public accommodation.
Clippard and Knox are charged with three hate crime counts, one count of conspiracy, one count of carjacking and three firearms offenses. If convicted, each faces a minimum penalty of 21 years in prison for the firearms offenses, a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each hate crime count and a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison on the carjacking count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Read more: Department of Justice