All three men were acquitted of conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation, but former
Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor was convicted of filing a false report to the FBI about the investigation into the death of Luis Ramirez. He could face up to 20 years in prison.
"A community must be able to rely on its law enforcement officers to be honest and truthful," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. "When they fail in this most fundamental duty, they must be held accountable."
Another officer, former Lt. William Moyer, was found guilty of making false statements to the FBI and could face five years in prison. Former officer Jason Hayes was acquitted of all charges.
The officers were accused of helping several high school football players conceal their roles in the July 12, 2008, attack on Ramirez. Brandon Piekarsky, 19, and Derrick Donchak, 20, both of Shenandoah, were convicted in October of a federal hate crime for the fatal beating of Ramirez, a 25-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Prosecutors said Piekarsky and Donchak encountered Ramirez in a park after leaving a community festival in Shenandoah, about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The defendants and several of their friends, some of whom testified during the trial, attacked Ramirez, prosecutors said.
During the assault, the defendants and their friends allegedly yelled racial epithets. Prosecutors said they called Ramirez a racially derogatory term and told him, "This is Shenandoah. This is America. Go back to Mexico."
Donchak beat Ramirez while holding a thick piece of metal known as a "fist pack," according to testimony at the trial. Piekarsky kicked Ramirez in the head as he lay on the ground and then allegedly told a bystander who was married to a Latino man to "tell your Mexican friends to get out of Shenandoah or you will be lying next to him."
Two days after the attack, Ramirez died of massive head injuries.
The FBI, which was brought in to investigate, alleged the local police chief and the two subordinates obstructed the inquiry because they had personal ties to the defendants. The officers denied any wrongdoing.
Jurors deliberated for 14 hours before returning the verdicts Thursday.
Outside the courtroom, Moyer continued to deny any wrongdoing.
Hayes, who was was acquitted of all charges, said he has already applied for a job with the Shenandoah Police Department.
"I feel terrific," he said outside the courtroom, according to The Associated Press.
Donchak and Piekarsky face a maximum of life in prison when they are sentenced next month. A sentencing hearing for Nestor and Moyer has not been set yet.