It was the rant and threat that stunned the affluent community of Davis Islands in Tampa.
On Nov. 3, 2016, a couple, Muslims of Indian descent, found what they thought to be their dream home: a $658,000 property. They were conducting their final walk-through of the attractive beige, two-story on a manicured lot.
But then, a neighbor accosted Kaderbhai Ali Asgar and his wife, Sehera Ali Asgar, and their accompanying Realtors. He threatened to break their windows and burn their home down.
"This sale will not take place," David H. Howard said, according to court documents. "I will break all of your f------ windows and I will burn your f------ house down! You are not welcome here!" he shouted.
The couple were wearing traditional Indian and Muslim clothing as they toured the home that fall afternoon, along with Sehera Ali's parents, a day before closing when Howard accosted the prospective buyers.
The Asgars canceled the sale the next day and lost their $30,000 deposit, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
On Feb. 27, Howard pleaded guilty to a felony of civil rights violation for intimidating and interfering with the family seeking to buy the Davis Island home, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that Howard, 59, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. Scriven of the Middle District of Florida to serve eight months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. He is also required to pay the Asgars $30,000 in restitution.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate illegal threats or acts of intimidation against any individual because of their religious beliefs,” said acting Assistant Attorney John Gore of the Civil Rights Division in a release. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to work tirelessly to prosecute hate crime offenders.”
Howard blamed steroid use to combat AIDS for his outburst, the Tampa Bay Times reported. His attorney, Scott Boardman, citing Howard's health issues, argued for probation over incarceration.
The court refused.
Said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez: “Today's sentence should send a clear message that we will vigorously uphold our nation’s civil rights laws. Crimes perpetrated against people because of who they are or what they believe simply cannot be tolerated."