Philipsburg man pleads guilty to cross burning

A Philipsburg man has pleaded guilty to burning a cross in front of a home where a biracial couple was staying.

Ryan M. Held, aka Ryan M. Foley, 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of interfering with housing on Tuesday. U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, of the state’s Western District in Johnstown, announced the plea in a news release.

Held could face up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

A federal grand jury indicted Held in April and accused of him trying to intimidate the two people.

According to the indictment, Held put up the burning cross in the front yard of a home in Woodland, Clearfield County, on Aug. 16, 2010. Earlier in the day, he drove by the home and saw a female minor socializing with friends who included a black male minor.

“Every citizen has the right to be safe in their own home, free from racial intolerance and intimidation,” Hickton said in the news release.

U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson revoked Held’s bond and ordered him to be confined until his sentencing hearing on Feb. 7, 2013, in Johnstown.