Mass. Man Gets 9 Years in Black Church Fire

Published November 2, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for torching a predominantly black church hours after Barack Obama was elected president.

Benjamin Haskell, of Springfield, was sentenced Monday in federal court after pleading guilty to civil rights charges in June. His plea deal called for the nine-year sentence.

The fire destroyed the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 2008, the day after Obama was elected America's first black president.

The church, under construction at the time, had about 300 members, most of whom were black.

Haskell is one of three white men charged in the fire. Thomas Gleason Jr. is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in June. Michael Jacques is awaiting trial.

Written by Associated Press

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