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Vermont man sentenced in hate crime after threatening to set fire to Hispanic neighbors

The 59-year-old also told the family to “go back to Mexico” and exposed his genitals and buttocks to them.
U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, center, speaks at a news conference in Burlington, Vt., on Jan. 27, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, center, speaks at a news conference in Burlington, Vt., on Jan. 27, 2020.Wilson Ring / AP file

A Vermont man was sentenced on a federal hate crime charge after intimidating, threatening and harassing a Hispanic family who were his neighbors.

Stuart Kurt Rollins, of Barre City, was sentenced to time served after spending nearly a year in prison and three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont announced on Tuesday. The 59-year-old man pleaded guilty to the hate crime charge in July as part of an agreement after initially pleading not guilty last year, court records show.

In July 2019, Rollins threatened to burn down a family’s home while they were inside and threatened to set fire to a member of the family, the federal prosecutor’s office said. Rollins, apparently upset that his neighbors were Hispanic, told the family that he would do “whatever it takes to get you off this street.”

He also told the family to “go back to Mexico” and exposed his genitals and buttocks in front of them, the prosecutors said. Rollins smashed the family’s mailbox and smashed glass on their lawn during the incident.

The family was not identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and was only referred to by initials in Rollins’ 2019 indictment.

Rollins has been detained since Nov. 27, 2019, and it is unclear whether he has been released as of Tuesday afternoon. An email requesting comment to Rollins’ public defender was not immediately returned.

Violent federal hate crimes are “antithetical to our core values,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont Christina E. Nolan said in a statement announcing the sentencing. Nolan added that her office will not hesitate to take action against such crimes.

“The defendant’s threats here made a Vermont family feel unsafe in their own home, just because of their race and national origin,” Nolan said. “As this case shows, Vermont is unfortunately not immune to hate-motivated acts.”