MADISON, Wis. - The DeForest man accused of sending a letter depicting a lynching admitted it was "stupid and dumb," according to a criminal complaint.
Police said Matthew Cimaroli, 21, sent a letter to the family of Harry Hale and Hester Hale depicting the lynching of two young black men in a historical textbook photo. The letter had typewritten wording of "Your Days Are Numbered."
The Stoughton family believed the letter was directed toward 18-year-old Javone Hale.
Cimaroli was arrested Sunday on suspicion of felony threats to injure or accuse with a hate crime enhancer. He made an initial appearance in court Tuesday. The court entered a not guilty plea on Cimaroli's behalf after he stood mute, and he was released on a signature bond and cannot have contact with the Hale family.
Cimaroli told police he and Javone Hale had worked together, and that Hale had stolen $1,000 from him, according to the criminal complaint. Cimaroli said he gave the $1,000 to Hale hoping to make some money in a drug deal, but Hale drove off with the money.
According to the criminal complaint, Cimaroli got mad about the incident and tried reporting Hale to police.
When authorities contacted Cimaroli, he initially denied sending the letter, but after they told him they found his DNA on the envelope seal, he admitted to sending it, according to the criminal complaint.
Cimaroli told police he didn't send the letter for racist reasons, but that he picked the picture because he thought it would scare Hale, according to the criminal complaint.
If convicted, Cimaroli faces a year in jail, an $11,000 fine or both. He will be back in court Aug. 19.
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