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Fort Lauderdale Man Pleads Guilty to Assaulting a Federal Employee with a Hate Crime Enhancement

April 6, 2024

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » United States Department of Justice

MIAMI – Today, Kenneth Pinkney, 47, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, pled guilty for his assault on a federal employee in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a) and (b) which included a hate crime enhancement. The victim was employed as a United States Postal Service (USPS) worker at the time of her assault.  The victim was a Muslim woman who wore a hijab, including when she delivered the mail from her postal truck.

According to the Court record, to include a factual proffer in support of the plea, on or about Oct. 9, 2023, just two days after Hamas’ attack on Israel, the victim was wearing her hijab while delivering mail.  She was visible to the public as she drove the postal vehicle along her route.  On this day, the victim saw Pinkney looking at her in what she interpreted as an aggressive manner as she drove by him in her USPS vehicle.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 24, 2023, the victim was on her postal route, stopped the USPS truck, and got out of the vehicle with mail to deliver.  Pinkney approached on a bicycle and began to pass the victim.  While still cycling, Pinkney made a hand gesture towards the victim in the shape of a firearm using two fingers to represent the barrel of a gun. Pinkney then turned his bicycle around and made the firearm gesture toward the victim more assertively.  Pinkney rode his bicycle directly towards the victim, then got off the bicycle and walked toward the victim.  Pinkney called the victim a “b—-” and said, “If I had a gun,” and “go back to your country.”  All this time, Pinkney continued to make the same menacing hand gesture, simulating a firearm.  At a point, the victim turned and faced the USPS truck and heard Pinkney say, “go back to your country” multiple times while tapping the victim on the back of her head with two fingers.

The victim entered the USPS truck and sat in the driver’s seat.  Pinkney continued to call the victim a “b—-” and say “go back to your country.”  Pinkney also spit on the image of the eagle of the side of the USPS truck, and then spit on the victim.  The victim was nervous and scared.  Pinkney reached into the truck and pulled at the victim’s ankle and leg in an unsuccessful attempt to yank her from the USPS truck.  Pinkney then entered the truck and grabbed at the victim’s neck with one hand and placed his other hand on her hijab. While in the vehicle, Pinkney tried to remove the hijab off the victim by pulling it down her face.  She physically resisted.  Unable to remove the hijab in this fashion, Pinkney then lifted the hijab up past the victim’s face toward the back of her head.  Pinkney succeeded in removing the hijab and revealing the victim’s hair.  Pinkney and the victim struggled over the hijab inside the vehicle. Pinkney eventually released the victim’s hijab, but then started pulling at her USPS apron.   The victim put her hijab back on her head.  The victim felt trapped, so she exited the vehicle.  Pinkney followed suit.

Once the victim and Pinkney were out of the vehicle, Pinkney said, “F– Islam” and “You are a terrorist.”  Pinkney and the victim continued to struggle, during which time the victim grabbed onto the collar of Pinkney’s shirt.  Pinkney’s shirt ripped as they separated. Pinkney fled the scene and was later arrested.

The victim sustained scratches on her face as a result of the assault.

Pinkney pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jared M. Strauss.  A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled before U.S. District Judge Roy K. Altman.

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI, Miami Field Office, Chief of Police William Schultz of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD), and Inspector in Charge Juan A. Vargas of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division made the announcement.

FBI Miami, FLPD and USPIS investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gilfarb is prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 24-cr-60014.

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