'KKK' yard burners face prison sentence
Two Medford men face up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of conspiring to interfere with civil rights after they burned the image of a cross and the letters "KKK" in the yard of a mixed race couple last spring.
Gary Moss, 38, and Devan Klausegger, 29, lodged their pleas in a Portland federal court. They are scheduled for sentencing on May 5.
According to their plea agreement, Moss admitted he poured the flammable liquid on the front lawn of the residence of Sol and Jonathan Whyte in the shape of a cross and the letters "KKK."
Klausegger then handed Moss a small explosive device that Moss used to ignite the liquid. They admitted these actions were done with the intent to interfere with the victims' rights because Jonathan Whyte is black.
Moss and Klausegger face a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
Sol Whyte said a federal lawyer has told her the pair will agree to spend four and a half years behind bars as part of the plea deal.
"I wish it was more, but I am comfortable with that amount," she said.
The Whytes have worked to put the tumultuous events of the past year behind them, but their two daughters still long for their previous home.
"We had a huge backyard that they really liked," Whyte said.
The cost of the unexpected move forced Whyte to return to full-time work. Before the hate crime was committed in her front yard, she stayed home to care for her daughters.
Moss and Klausegger's actions have not soured the Whytes on Medford. They were grateful for the support they received from their neighbors and several groups within the city, Whyte said.
"We have heard that people have come together to try and make sure this doesn't happen again," Whyte said.
The Whytes will be relieved when Moss returns to jail after sentencing.
They were told he was released months ago after completing a drug and alcohol treatment class while in jail.
"He had a sensor on his leg, but we still had to keep looking behind us to feel safe," Whyte said. "I will be glad when he's back in jail."