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Hate Crime Prisoner Faces Liberty, Limits

Times Staff Writer

A former Marine who was found guilty of a hate crime and later of threatening a potential prosecution witness after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will soon be out on probation, but with a laundry list of conditions.

Steven James McManus of Norco was sentenced Monday in Orange County Superior Court to 180 days in jail and three years’ probation for threatening to kill his former landlord because the man talked to prosecutors about his character.

The threats to the former landlord came after McManus, 45, threatened an elderly Iranian couple during their morning walk in Huntington Beach two weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Babak Sotoodeh, president of the Orange County-based Alliance for Iranian Americans, said the sentence sends a message.

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“Anybody that’s going to act in the same manner now knows they’re going to be dealing with their actions,” Sotoodeh said.

“This sets a precedent for others to look at and question their actions.”

McManus was credited with 177 days served in Orange County Jail and authorities say that he will be released this week.

After the threats to the couple, McManus had been sentenced to three years’ probation, ordered to do 80 hours of community service, complete an anger management program, tour the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and submit a 300-word essay on his experience.

Within hours of being released, he was sent back to jail for threatening to kill his former landlord because he had talked to prosecutors. All terms of his former probation were reimposed Monday, and McManus was given 240 additional hours of community service.

Judge Michael S. McCartin issued two restraining orders -- one on behalf of the Iranian couple and one on behalf of his former landlord.

The incident was one of the first hate crimes in Orange County to be prosecuted. Authorities said McManus taunted the couple -- both in their 70s -- from his car, demanding to know where they were from.

He then parked his car, approached the couple, and told them he would kill them if they didn’t cross the street.

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McManus didn’t comment during Monday’s hearing.

“Steve is going to get out of jail soon and he’s going to get on with his life,” his lawyer, Robert Crawfis, said later.

“He’s a decent guy.”


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