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Indian American man charged with hate crime and threats against Sikh organization


Dallas, Texas, June 6, 2024: A 48-year-old man from Dallas, Bhushan Athale, has been charged with a federal hate crime and making interstate threats against employees of a Sikh nonprofit organization.

Athale faces charges for interfering with federally protected activities by threatening to use a dangerous weapon and for transmitting an interstate threat to injure others.

The charges are based on a series of voicemails Athale left for a Sikh civil rights organization on September 17, 2022. In these messages, he allegedly expressed extreme hatred towards Sikh individuals, using violent and obscene language. He allegedly threatened to harm or kill them with a razor, mentioning specific actions like forcibly shaving their hair and making them eat tobacco.

In March, Athale left more voicemails for the same organization, this time also expressing hatred towards Muslims. He suggested violent actions against Sikhs and Muslims, using offensive and abusive language.

The investigation revealed that Athale has a history of making religious-based threats. In the past, he used a professional networking site to express his hatred towards Pakistan and Muslims, even threatening a former co-worker and their family.

If convicted, Athale could face up to 10 years in prison for interfering with federally protected activities and up to 5 years for transmitting interstate threats. He also faces fines of up to $250,000 for each charge. A federal judge will determine his sentence based on legal guidelines.

The FBI Philadelphia Field Office investigated the case, and the announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, and FBI Special Agent Wayne A. Jacobs. Prosecutors in the case are Sara A. Aliabadi, Jason M. Richardson, and Eric Peffley.

This case highlights the serious consequences of hate crimes and threats against individuals based on their religious beliefs.

Cover photo credit: Ancient Faces website.

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