Plea of guilty in plot to burn Hispanics' home

January 15, 2002|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A Cecil County man who authorities said tried to force several Mexican nationals out of an Elkton neighborhood by plotting to burn their rental home pleaded guilty yesterday to federal civil rights violations.

Christopher C. Cimorose, 33, of Elkton acknowledged that he helped two other men plan the arson attempt last summer, supplying the gasoline used to set the fire and warning neighbors beforehand to vacate their homes.

At Cimorose's brief court appearance yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Luna said the arson plan was hatched because Cimorose and the other men "did not want individuals of Mexican descent ... to live in the Hollingsworth Manor neighborhood."

No one was injured in the fire. Three of the six Hispanic men living in the duplex home in the 100 block of Hollingsworth Manor were at home when a neighbor saw the fire about 10 p.m. July 15.

Authorities in the community quickly targeted ethnicity as a possible motivation for the fire and asked for help from FBI investigators, who pursued charges under the federal laws designed in the 1960s and 1970s to protect African-American families moving into traditionally white neighborhoods.

Cimorose and Murrell "Sonny" Webb, also of Elkton, were charged with violating the tenants' civil rights by interfering with their housing conditions. Webb, 19, pleaded guilty to the violation Jan. 3. Both could receive up to 10 years in federal prison.

A 17-year-old from Elkton was charged as an adult in state court with arson and reckless endangerment. He was identified as Joshua Hollada in court papers filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The filing noted that he turned 18 shortly after the fire.

Court papers identified the six tenants as Martin De Leon, Alfredo Chavez Sarmudio, Antonio Salinas Rodriguez, Jaime Gonzalez Yvarra, Juan Sanchez Robles and his brother, Carlos.

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