37-year-old John Blayne Vangastel entered the plea Wednesday in federal court to charges that he interfered with the family’s housing rights.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, on December 30, 2015, Vangastel entered the family’s property without permission and blocked their gate so they could not park their vehicles on their property. When confronted, Vangastel threatened one of the female family members and repeatedly tried to instigate a fight with the rest of the family while making racial comments.
The DOJ said in a press release, “The incident was the culmination of Vangastel’s repeated intimidation of his neighbors, who had lived at their residence for 20 years without incident. As a result of Vangastel’s conduct, the family became so fearful that they moved out of their home.”
According to the DOJ, Vangastel pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of using threats of force to injure, intimidate and interfere with his neighbors in the enjoyment of their housing rights because they are a family of Vietnamese descent.
No sentencing date has been set.
Klamath County District Attorney Rob Patridge released a statement saying, “”This case was egregious and I reached out to the Feds to ask them to take this case. I appreciate the diligent work of the Oregon State Police, FBI, and U.S. Attorney’s Office in handling this matter. Nobody should have to tolerate the continued racial harassment this family was subjected to in their own home. Unfortunately, the victims lost one of the patriarchs of their family who died I believe because of the stress caused by the continual harassment that occurred the night this was reported to the police. Unfortunately, the criminal law does not allow for the prosecution of this type of death. It is my hope that this case sends a message that we will not tolerate racial harassment.”
To read the U.S. Department of Justice release regarding this case, click HERE.