Eugene man sent to prison on intimidation charge

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A Eugene man who pleaded guilty last year to accusations he drove a pickup truck flying a Confederate flag and shouted racial epithets at a terrified youth has been sent to prison for violating probation.

Matthew Robert Booster, 23, had agreed to complete a cultural awareness class as part of a plea deal last year on an intimidation charge, the Register-Guard (http://bit.ly/KiW0Xr) reported Tuesday.

Prosecutors say Booster acknowledged he’d broken the agreement. Other failings included drug use or possession and not cooperating with probation officers. Prosecutor Patty Perlow said the probation officer tried to work with Booster, but the attempts failed.

In court Monday, Judge Jay McAlpin ordered Booster to serve up to 16 months.

Booster said in court last year that his flag had “nothing to do with racism” and was a symbol of his “fairly deep ties with a Southern pride lifestyle.” But he acknowledged in his plea agreement that he and his passengers placed the victim “in fear of imminent serious physical injury because of (their) perception of the victim’s race or color.”

The threat unfolded on Memorial Day 2012.

One of the juveniles told investigators the victim, who is of multiple races, made a disrespectful gesture at the flag, and Booster skidded his yellow truck across a gravel parking lot toward the fleeing boy. The victim hid in bushes and was able to leave the area after phoning his mother for help, officials said.

The three juveniles were charged with misdemeanor counts of intimidation and referred to juvenile court, where proceedings are not public.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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