A New Jersey man, Edward Mathews, received an eight-year prison sentence for racially abusing his black neighbors. The 47-year-old gained notoriety in July 2021 for a viral incident where he hurled racial abuse and spat on a black neighbor.
Further investigation revealed a history of Mathews terrorizing black residents in the Essex Palace condominium near Philadelphia. He was sighted in court sobbing after the sentence was handed down, according to Daily Mail.
Victims told the court that the accused engaged in a pattern of harassment that included firing BB pellets at cars, racial slurs, property damage with feces, and sending threatening emails and letters to victims. In court, a shackled Mathews, clad in an orange jumpsuit, offered an apology for his past “insensitive and disrespectful words.” He expressed remorse for the fallout from his actions and disclosed that it has cost him his marriage and family.
His ex-wife, Shannon Schwartzhoff, disputed claims that he is a racist, alluding to the fact that many of his friends were black individuals. She attributed the racist incident to alcohol consumption, stating that he was intoxicated and grappling with neighborhood issues, including missing funds within the Home Owners’ Association.
Assistant County Prosecutor Jamie Hutchinson shared victim impact statements from four individuals, aged mainly in their 60s and 70s, associated with the Mount Laurel condominium. Concerns about reprisals prevented them from speaking in court. LeRon Brown, a former homeowners’ association president, who is black, and his wife, Denise, who is white, had lived there since 2001, but had to move out in 2021 due to multiple altercations with Mathews. Another black homeowners’ association member relocated due to abuse from Mathews.
The assistant county prosecutor, Jamie Hutchinson, argued that Mathews has an extensive criminal record. Mathews has had 11 felony convictions since 1995, including drug offenses that prohibited weapon possession, but was found with a slingshot, 30 rounds of ball-bearing ammunition, and hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Judge Gerard Breland directed that he pay $4,408 in restitution and undergo racial sensitivity training during his prison term. Mathews, who has been in custody since the arrest, will receive credit for the 886 days spent in jail. He will be eligible for parole in about 16 months.