Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas was sentenced today for committing violent crimes as part of a conspiracy to target users of the dating app Grindr. Jenkins was sentenced to a federal prison term of 280 months for his involvement in the scheme to target gay men for violent crimes. He is the last of four defendants to be sentenced in this case.
According to documents filed in connection with this case, the defendant admitted that he conspired to and then targeted nine men in and around Dallas for violent crimes, including kidnapping, carjacking and hate crimes, because of his perception of the victims’ sexual orientation, that is, because he believed the victims were gay men. Beginning on or around Dec. 6, 2017, members of the conspiracy used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure men to an apartment complex in Dallas. When the men arrived, the conspirators held the men at gunpoint and forced them to drive to local ATMs to withdraw cash from their accounts.
“This defendant targeted innocent victims for violent crimes simply because he believed they were gay,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence affirms that bias-motivated crimes run contrary to our national values and underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to aggressively prosecuting bias-motivated crimes, including crimes against the LGBTQI community. We will continue to pursue justice for victims of bias-motivated crimes, wherever they occur.”
“This defendant singled out victims based on their perceived sexual orientation, then viciously assaulted them. The Department of Justice will not tolerate these sorts of heinous, hate-based attacks,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham for the Northern District of Texas. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, bigots often lurk online. We urge users of dating apps like Grindr to remain vigilant.”
“This sentence sends a strong message that individuals who conduct violent, targeted attacks will be held accountable,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI Dallas Field Office. “Investigating hate crimes is one of the FBI's highest priorities and we will continue to vigorously pursue offenders that threaten our families and communities. Everyone deserves to be and feel safe and we take this opportunity to urge the public to report suspected hate crimes to the FBI and local law enforcement.”
With his guilty plea on June 2, Jenkins admitted to joining the conspiracy to target gay men for violent crimes. Starting in December of 2017, Jenkins and a coconspirator created user profiles on Grindr and used the profiles to lure men they perceived to be gay to a location to rob them. Jenkins further admitted that on Dec. 11, 2017, he and others lured multiple victims to the apartment complex, pointed a handgun at them, took their personal property and assaulted them, causing at least one victim physical injury. Jenkins admitted that he knew that members of the conspiracy used gay slurs and taunted the victims, and that at least one member of the conspiracy attempted to sexually assault a victim. Jenkins also admitted to participating in the carjacking of at least one victim.
Jenkins was the last of four defendants to plead guilty in this case. Jenkins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, and carjacking; one hate crime count; and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Under the plea agreement, Jenkins faced a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison. Jenkins’ coconspirators: Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon and Daryl Henry, had previously pleaded guilty. Atkinson was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison, Ceniceros-Deleon was sentenced to 22 years in prison and Henry was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The FBI’s Dallas Field Office conducted the federal investigation; a separate criminal investigation is being conducted by the Dallas Police Department. Deputy Chief Rose E. Gibson and Trial Attorney Kathryn Gilbert of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana, prosecuted the case.