Southwest News-Herald: Man Charged in Hate Crime Burbank Man Is Implicated by Fed Agents in Van Bombing

A Burbank resident alleged of a 2003 bombing of an Arab-American family’s van was charged by federal agents July 11 with a hate crime for the same incident.

Eric Nix, 26, was charged with violating the civil rights of the owner and her family.

He allegedly threw an explosive shell into the van, which was parked in the 7700 block of Mayfield Avenue in 2003.

Prosecutors allege that Nix committed the bombing against the Arab-American family because of their race and where they lived.

At the time, Nix was charged with arson, criminal damage to property and a hate crime.

A Cook County judge gave Nix two years of probation and ordered him to take anger management classes.

The penalty reportedly appeared like a slap on the wrist to the family and Arab-American organizations monitoring the case.

Now that federal charges have been brought against Nix, prosecutors said that double jeopardy does not apply to Nix.

He was previously placed on state charges. Now federal charges are applied against him, federal officials said.

Nix had also been arrested in 2001 when he threw a brick through a window of an Arab-owned furniture store.

The incident occurred two days after the 9/11 attacks, and was among a series of other hate crimes committed against Arab-Americans in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.

He had been convicted of criminal damage to property and imprisoned at the time for 30 days.

The Salmi family, victims of the bombed van, stated through an attorney that they were happy with the latest charge against Nix.

The Salmi family is pleased to hear of the federal grand jury indictments,” said Betsy Shuman-Moore, attorney and member of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

Violence and intimidation based on religion and ethnic origin violates a wide array of state and federal criminal and civil laws, which should be enforced fully,” Shuman-Moore said.

Advocates of the Arab-American family and other civil rights cases also said the federal charges against Nix were justified,

In America, hate crimes constitute a serious federal offense. The FBI acted appropriately to rearrest Nix,” said Ahmed M. Rehab, Director of Communications for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Burbank resident Daniel R. Alba, 31, was also charged with making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Randall Samborn, representative of the U.S. Department of Justice, said that Alba lied about knowing who bombed the Arab-American family’s van in 2003.

It is unclear how Alba knew Nix.

Nix and Alba were unavailable for comment.

Federal prosecutors said that Nix could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined $250,000. Alba faces a maximum of five years in prison and also a $250,000 fine.

copyright © 2005, Vondrak Publishing, Inc.