California Couple Convicted of Lake Tahoe Hate Crime

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On March 11th, a Sacremento jury found a white, middle-aged couple with a history of racial hatred guilty in Sacramento federal court of a hate crime. They were convicted of interfering with the right of an Indian American man to be in a public area at South Lake Tahoe because of his ethnic origin and the color of his skin.

A jury deliberated approximately 90 minutes before delivering its verdict against Georgia Silva, 52, and husband Joseph Silva, 56.

Vishal Wadhwa, 40, a San Franciscan bank executive, said that, after he asked the Silvas about their racial slurs toward Wadhwa's fiancé, the Silvas followed him and beat him viciously in the El Dorado Beach area in July, 2007. Several people witnessed the beatings. 

Georgia Silva had called Wadhwa’s fiancée, Ayesha Matthews and her cousin, “Indian sluts and whores.” Prosecutors found many neighbors who had trouble with the Silvas. One testified about a fight where Mr. Silva wielded a baseball bat, shouting racial slurs at a Latina and her biracial daughter.

In the beating, Georgia Silva held Wadhwa down while her husband kicked and punched him several times in the head, fracturing his skull. They called him, “Indian piece of shit,” “terrorists” and “relatives of Osama bin Laden.” Wadhwa had to be hospitalized. 

Sentencing will be June 1. They face multiple years in jail and fines.

The couple had previously pleaded guilty in El Dorado County for misdemeanors for the same crime in 2008. In that case, the Asian American community had protested the lack of hate-crime charges.