updated 4/24/2006 4:18:10 AM ET 2006-04-24T08:18:10

A cross burning near a black man’s home last year has prompted an investigation of at least four white men, and one of them has pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal.

Christopher Baird surrendered Friday and pleaded guilty in federal district court in connection with the cross burning near the home of Anthony Briggins, a black man who shared his Fouke home with his white girlfriend and their child.

The Justice Department says as many as three other men could be indicted.

Baird, 33, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He was charged with conspiracy to interfere with the right to occupy a dwelling free from intimidation and interference based on race and color.

Baird said during Friday’s hearing that race was a factor in the cross burning. “Mr. Baird took the steps he took today to try to make the best out of a bad situation,” said Jeff Harrelson, Baird’s lawyer.

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