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Single hate bias incident reported in Carroll County for second straight year; police find it unfounded

A single hate bias incident was reported in Carroll County in 2019, though police determined it to be unfounded, according to the annual Hate Bias Report compiled by Maryland State Police.

The report stresses that if a hate bias incident is not reported to law enforcement, it is not included in the report. Carroll County saw just one reported hate bias incident for the second straight year in 2019, after averaging 3.75 reported incidents per year between 2010 and 2017.

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The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office determined the single reported hate bias incident in Carroll County for 2019 to be unfounded, meaning “the evidence or investigation definitively indicates that it was not motivated by bias” against protected status, according to the report. The state’s definition includes bias against race, ethnicity or ancestry, sexual orientation, religion, disability, gender, gender identity, or homeless status.

The reported incident in Carroll County was alleged to have been committed by three white individuals younger than 18 years old in ZIP code 21157, which covers Westminster. The report did not include any other information about that allegation, including about any victims, and the Sheriff’s Office declined to offer further details.

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Just under 6% of incidents statewide in 2019 were determined to be unfounded.

Carroll County’s lone hate bias incident report in 2018, unlike this year’s, was verified. An incident is verified when “the investigation leads a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by their bias” against protected characteristics.

In that case Joseph Nagy of Taneytown was charged with racially motivated property crime and several other charges after allegedly confessing to defacing cars and spray-painting racist graffiti on a Chinese restaurant in Taneytown after being dissatisfied with its food.

Prosecutors declined to charge him with eight counts of malicious destruction of property valued less than $1,000 in March 2019, misdemeanors, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction of property scheme valued more than $1,000, but was convicted of that charge in May 2019 and was given a three-year sentence that was entirely suspended.

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He pleaded not guilty while agreeing to the statement of facts to a racially motivated property crime charge, a misdemeanor, and was found guilty, according to court records. That plea means he essentially maintained his innocence but acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence to win a conviction. He was sentenced to three years, with two years and 350 days being suspended.

He was also sentenced to three years of supervised probation and was ordered to pay about $3,500 in restitution, court records show.

Statewide, just 86 of 385 reported incidents, or 22%, were found to be verified, whereas nearly 72% were found to be “inconclusive." That means that there was “conflicting, incomplete, or otherwise insufficient” evidence to classify the incident as verified, according to the state’s reporting.

Sixteen arrests were made in 2019 statewide due to verified hate bias incidents, the report says.

Across Maryland, Black individuals as a race subcategory were about 54% of victims, while white individuals represented about 32% of victims. Nearly half of offenders were white, while Black individuals were about 10% of all offenders. Among reported race-motivated incidents, 208 of 262 — nearly 80% — were “Anti-Black or African American.”

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties made up more than 80% of hate bias reporting in 2019.

ZIP code 20742, home of the University of Maryland, College Park, had the most reported incidents of any ZIP code at 19. About 34% of all reports happened at academic institutions.

On Oct. 1, Maryland’s hate crime law expanded to allow prosecution of hate crimes if the crimes "motivated either in whole or in part by” hate or bias, as opposed to just “sole” motivation, as previously required.

Called 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III’s Law, the law was passed after the parents of the bill’s namesake pushed for the legislation after their son, 23, was stabbed to death in 2017 at a University of Maryland, College Park bus stop. A white man, Sean Urbanski, was convicted of first-degree murder, but a judge tossed out a hate crime charge in the case, saying that racist memes on Urbanski’s phone didn’t prove a direct link to the crime.

The use of nooses or swastikas on property without the permission of the owner or occupant while intending to threaten or intimidate a person or group was also banned as of Oct. 1.

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