A 57-year-old lawn maintenance worker is being investigated after hanging a noose outside a home in response to an argument with a black caretaker, WKMG-TV reported.
While sheriff's officials in Volusia County, Florida, are describing William Ralston's actions as a hate crime, Ralston denied the allegation in a statement.
"I didn't do anything intentionally," he said. "The rope and noose was already there for a year and a half. I did have the noose for parties as a gag but it was never there for racial vendetta or anything."
Ralston's actions allegedly came in response to a pay dispute with the caretaker of the home, 48-year-old David Dabney.
Dabney said he found the noose hanging from a tree outside the house on Wednesday morning, prompting him to notify authorities after telling the property owner.
"I was concerned. I'm working here. I don't know what's going on," Dabney said. "Am I going to have a Molotov through the window, a burning cross in the front yard?"
He also criticized Ralston's remark to investigators that he tied the rope into a noose to "make it more interesting."
"If this is the mindset that someone has -- 'Oh well, I'll hang up this Halloween decoration and it'll be funny,' Funny to whom?" Dabney said.
Watch WKMG's report, as aired on Thursday, below.