A Dallas man has been sentenced to more than 23 years in federal prison for committing violent crimes against gay users of the dating app Grindr, Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke announced Thursday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said 22-year-old Daniel Jenkins is the last of four defendants to be sentenced in this case.
According to court documents, Jenkins admitted that he conspired to target nine Dallas area men for violent crimes, including kidnapping, carjacking, and hate crimes, because of his perception of the victims' sexual orientation.
Jenkins was sentenced to a federal prison term of 280 months for his involvement in the scheme.
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The U.S. Attorney's Office said beginning in December 2017, members of the conspiracy used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure men to an apartment complex in Dallas.
When the men arrived, the conspirators held the men at gunpoint and forced them to drive to local ATMs to withdraw cash from their accounts, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
"This defendant singled out victims based on their perceived sexual orientation, then viciously assaulted them," said Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham for the Northern District of Texas. "The Department of Justice will not tolerate these sorts of heinous, hate-based attacks. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, bigots often lurk online. We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to remain vigilant."
"This defendant targeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed they were gay," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "This sentence affirms that bias-motivated crimes run contrary to our national values and underscores the Justice Department's commitment to aggressively prosecuting bias-motivated crimes, including crimes against the LGBTQI community. We will continue to pursue justice for victims of bias-motivated crimes, wherever they occur."
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, while pleading guilty on June 2, Jenkins admitted to joining the conspiracy to target gay men for violent crimes.
Jenkins and a coconspirator created user profiles on Grindr and used the profiles to lure men they perceived to be gay to a location to rob them, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Jenkins also admitted that on Dec. 11, 2017, he and others lured multiple victims to the apartment complex, pointed a handgun at them, took their personal property, and assaulted them, injuring at least one victim.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said Jenkins admitted that he knew members of the conspiracy used gay slurs and taunted the victims, and that at least one member of the conspiracy attempted to sexually assault a victim.
Jenkins also admitted to participating in the carjacking of at least one victim.
Jenkins was the last of four defendants to plead guilty in this case.
Jenkins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, and carjacking; one hate crime count; and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Under the plea agreement, Jenkins faced a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison.
His coconspirators, Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, and Daryl Henry, had previously pleaded guilty. Atkinson was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison, Ceniceros-Deleon was sentenced to 22 years in prison, and Henry was sentenced to 20 years in prison.