A Wisconsin man has admitted sending a letter depicting a lynching to a black family, but he insisted that racism was not a motive.
On Tuesday, Stoughton Police charged 21-year-old Matthew J. Cimaroli with Felony Threats to Injure or Accuse with a Hate Crime Enhancer, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Police reports accused Cimaroli of sending a hate mail to a black Stoughton family in April. The letter included a depiction of two young black men being lynched, and the typewritten warning that "Your Days Are Numbered." The lynching image was reportedly taken from a historical textbook.
At first, Cimaroli told police that he had not sent the letter. But he later admitted to sending it after investigators found his DNA on the mail.
Cimaroli said that the letter had been retaliation over a drug deal with Javone Hale, who he said owed him money. And he used the lynching photo from a textbook because "he felt it would be scary," court documents indicated.
"We are being told by the suspect that it was in retaliation for an alleged drug deal that went bad and some money owed," Stoughton Police Chief Greg Leck told WISC-TV. "It was directed individually at the son and not at the family in particular."
Javone Hale's father, Harry Hale, said that he was not aware of a drug deal when the family received the letter.
"I didn't have knowledge of that," Harry Hale explained. "It came to us and we got the letter, me and my wife did. I'm just glad they got him and set an example for people doing stuff like that."
Chief Leck said that Cimaroli was charged with a hate crime enhancer as a message to others.
"I think the message that we want to send is that we don't tolerate this kind of behavior in Stoughton, and we will aggressively pursue that," Leck insisted.
Watch the video below from WISC-TV, broadcast July 14, 2014.