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Plea Is Guilty in Hate-Crime Case; Long Sentence Possible

January 23, 1991|ALAN ABRAHAMSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Chula Vista man pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of violating the civil rights of a Jewish pawn shop owner who authorities said was harassed for years in an unrelenting telephone "hate crime" campaign.

Michael Dennis Danko, 24, who had been named in a six-count indictment, pleaded guilty to a sole count of conspiring to threaten and intimidate the rights of David Vogel, 66, owner of National City Pawnbrokers & Jewelers. Danko also pleaded guilty to a count of using AT&T long-distance access codes without authorization.

Danko's guilty pleas closed a case that had begun to draw to an end Jan. 11, when the two other men indicted last September with him pleaded guilty to a sole charge each. Brett A. Pankauski, 23, of Chula Vista, and Jeffrey A. Myrick, 21, of San Diego, each pleaded guilty to a count of conspiring to violate Vogel's civil rights by making phone threats.

The indictment charged that the three men violated Vogel's rights by interfering with his ability to work without being harassed. Vogel, a naturalized American citizen whose family fled Nazi Germany in 1938, received harassing calls from 1987 to 1990.

Danko admitted Tuesday that, on an almost daily basis for those three years, the three men called Vogel, Assistant U.S. Atty. S. Gay Hugo-Martinez said.

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