A Biddeford man is going to prison for 10 years, convicted of attacking two black men in 2018.

Maurice Higgins was convicted in March of two counts of committing hate crimes and one count of conspiracy, in connection with two separate acts of violence against black men in Portland and Biddeford. The Portland Press Herald reports Higgins was sentenced on Tuesday to 10 years in prison. His nephew, Dusty Leo, pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the same crime and is awaiting sentencing. The two men are the first to be prosecuted for hate crimes at the federal level in Maine since a new hate crime law was adopted in 2009.

The charges stemmed from a pair of attacks that police said were prompted only by the fact that the victims were black. In Biddeford, a black man was about to enter a 7-Eleven convenience store near his home when Leo and Diggins drove up in a pickup truck. The victim had never met the men before when they began calling him a racial slur. Leo then punched the victim on the side of the head, breaking his jaw, followed by Diggins hitting him on the back of the head. The victim managed to get up and run away from his attackers. And in Portland, the pair approached three black men who were standing outside a bar in the Old Port. Diggins hit two of the men, breaking one man's jaw. He fled the scene, with his two attackers chasing after him, shouting racial slurs.

Both victims had surgery and ended up with their jaws wired shut for several weeks.




More From WQCB Brewer Maine