GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP/WSPA) – A white South Carolina man who pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hit man from the Ku Klux Klan to kill a black neighbor has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
The State reports U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks sentenced 26-year-old Brandon Lecroy, of Greenwood, on Thursday.
Hendricks ruled that Lecroy’s offense qualified as a hate crime, but noted that the plan to have someone else killed was so serious she would have given him 10 years even if race wasn’t a factor. Ten years is the maximum sentence for the offense.
Hendricks’ ruling came after a spirited argument by Lecroy’s attorney, Erica Soderdahl, who says race didn’t play a role. She says Lecroy was trying to get rid of an extremely troublesome neighbor who happened to be African American.
According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon’s office, an undercover FBI agent posed as a hitman to see if Lecroy was intending to cause harm to his neighbor.
“On March 20, 2018, via a recorded telephone conversation, Lecroy made an arrangement with the undercover agent to pay for the murder of his neighbor. During the phone call, Lecroy told the agent “$500 and he’s a ghost.” In other words, Lecroy offered to pay $500 for the death of his neighbor. In the same conversation, Lecroy also made a request to put a “flaming cross” in the front yard and have the neighbor hung from a tree. Lecroy also made statements about taking over the neighbor’s property once the murder was accomplished.”
On April 9, 2018, Lecroy met with the undercover agent in Greenwood. During this meeting, Lecroy pointed out the neighbor’s residence and discussed future targets he wanted killed or maimed. Lecroy also provided the agent with a $100 cash down payment. After the exchange of funds, law enforcement officers descended on the scene and arrested Lecroy without incident.