Chicago -- An admitted member of a white supremacist group was sentenced Wednesday for joining two knife-wielding friends in chasing four terrified black children and shouting racial epithets at them.
Harley Hermes, 21, a member of an organization known as the Lake County Skinheads, was sentenced in federal court to 20 months in prison for conspiring to violate the civil rights of the four youngsters.
"Today's sentence ... warns those who would commit hate crimes that they will receive the punishment they deserve and alerts victims of such violence that we will vindicate their civil rights," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.
The incident took place in Fox Lake in suburban Lake County on the night of Aug. 30, 2002, after a Grant Community High School football game.
Hermes pleaded guilty Sept. 3 and acknowledged seeing the youngsters and falsely telling two friends that one of them had started trouble.
Hermes and his friends, Shaun Derifield and a person prosecutors identified only as Individual A, then went running after the four youngsters, shouting racial slurs.
Hermes acknowledged in his signed 14-page plea agreement that he chased a boy and girl into a nearby house. He then found that his friends had cornered another girl and were menacing her with their knives.
While the three shouted epithets at the girl, she cried and begged Derifield, "Please don't kill me," according to the plea agreement.
Her three tormentors finally relented after Hermes became concerned that the police might show up, according to the document.
Derifield pleaded guilty to a similar charge in September. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19.