Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas was convicted today of committing violent crimes in connection with a conspiracy to target users of the dating app Grindr. Jenkins was sentenced to a 280-month federal prison sentence for his involvement in the scheme to target gay men for violent crimes. He is the last of the four defendants to be sentenced in this case.
According to documents filed in this case, the accused admitted that he conspired and then targeted nine men in and around Dallas for violent crimes, including kidnappings, carjackings and hate crimes, in because of his perception of the sexual orientation of the victims, that is, because he believed that the victims were gay men. On or around December 6, 2017, members of the conspiracy used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure men into an apartment complex in Dallas. When the men arrived, the conspirators held the men at gunpoint and forced them to go to local ATMs to withdraw money from their accounts.
“This defendant has targeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed them to be gay,” said Deputy Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. “This sentence affirms that bias-motivated crimes are contrary to our national values and underscores the Department of Justice’s commitment to aggressively prosecute bias-motivated crimes, including crimes against the LGBTQI community. We will continue to seek justice for victims of bias-motivated crimes, wherever they occur. “
“This defendant distinguished the victims based on their perceived sexual orientation, then violently assaulted them. The Department of Justice will not tolerate these kinds of heinous and hateful attacks, ”said Acting US Attorney Chad Meacham for the North District of Texas. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, fanatics are often in hiding online. We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to be vigilant. “
“This sentence sends a strong message that individuals who carry out violent and targeted attacks will be held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI Field Office in Dallas. “Investigating hate crimes is one of the top priorities of the FBI and we will continue to vigorously prosecute offenders who threaten our families and communities. Everyone deserves to be and to feel safe and we take this opportunity to urge the public to report suspected hate crimes to the FBI and local law enforcement. “
With his guilty plea on June 2, Jenkins admitted to joining the plot to target gay men for violent crimes. Starting in December 2017, Jenkins and a co-conspirator created user profiles on Grindr and used them to lure men they perceived to be gay into a place to steal them. Jenkins further admitted that on December 11, 2017, he and others lured several victims into the apartment complex, pointed a handgun at them, took their personal property and assaulted them, causing at least one physical injury. . Jenkins admitted that he knew that members of the conspiracy used homosexual slurs and taunted victims, and that at least one member of the conspiracy attempted to sexually assault a victim. Jenkins also admitted to participating in the hijacking of at least one victim.
Jenkins was the last of four defendants to plead guilty in this case. Jenkins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping and carjacking; one count of hate crime; and one count of use of a firearm during and in connection with a crime of violence. Under the plea agreement, Jenkins faced a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison. Jenkins co-conspirators: Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon and Daryl Henry, had previously pleaded guilty. Atkinson was sentenced to over 11 years in prison, Ceniceros-Deleon was sentenced to 22 years in prison, and Henry was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The local FBI office in Dallas conducted the federal investigation; a separate criminal investigation is being conducted by the Dallas Police Department. Deputy Chief Rose E. Gibson and trial lawyer Kathryn Gilbert of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, as well as Deputy U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana, continued the case.