A federal grand jury indicted an Independence woman Wednesday for allegedly violating a family’s civil rights by torching its home.
The indictment accuses Victoria A. Cheek-Herrera, 33, of conspiring to intimidate members of an African-American family from living in their rental home because of their race.
On June 26, 2008, Cheek-Herrera purportedly drew a swastika and wrote the words “White Power” on the couple’s driveway in the 600 block of South Arlington Avenue in Independence.
That same day, Cheek-Herrera and a co-conspirator, who is not identified in the charges, also allegedly spoke with a juvenile about obtaining gasoline.
According to the charges, Cheek-Herrera fashioned a Molotov cocktail out of a glass bottle and a denim rag, lit the wick and threw the bottle into the side of the home, setting the residence on fire.
Damage to the home was relatively minor and no injuries were reported from the attack, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Cheek-Herrera faces three felony counts, including conspiring against the family’s civil rights, interfering with its fair housing rights and using fire or an explosive during the commission of a felony.
If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison on each of the first two counts, followed by an additional consecutive term of at least 10 years on the arson count.
In addition to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is prosecuting the case.