Three Texas Men Sentenced To Prison For Using Dating App To Target Gay Men For Violent Crimes
Michael Atkinson, 28, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, 21, and Daryl Henry, 24, were sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in a scheme to target gay men for violent crimes. Atkinson was sentenced to over 11 years in prison, Ceniceros-Deleon was sentenced to 22 years in prison and Henry was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The sentencing was announced in a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to documents filed in connection with the case, the three men admitted that they targeted as many as nine men in and around Dallas for violent crimes including kidnapping, carjacking and hate crimes.
“These defendants brutalized multiple victims, singling them out due to their sexual orientation. We cannot allow this sort of violence to fester unchecked,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah for the Northern District of Texas in a statement. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting hate crimes. In the meantime, we urge dating app users to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, predators often lurk online.”
In December 2017, the men used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure men to an apartment complex in Dallas. The victims were held at gunpoint and forced to drive to local ATMs to withdraw cash from their accounts.
As part of his plea agreement, Henry admitted that he used violence and threats of violence to hold the victims in the backroom and closet of the vacant apartment while Atkinson and Ceniceros-Deleon used the victims’ vehicles to drive to local ATMs and steal cash from the victims’ accounts.
While the victims were held at gunpoint, some were physically assaulted, at least one victim was sexually assaulted, and all of the victims were taunted with gay slurs.
In 2019, Atkinson pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking..
Ceniceros-Deleon pleaded guilty in 2019 to one hate crime count, one count of carjacking, and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Henry pleaded guilty in 2019 to one hate crime count and one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking.
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