A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit today affirmed the federal hate-crime convictions of two Schuylkill County men in the 2008 beating death of an illegal Mexican immigrant.

The Third Circuit panel in Philadelphia affirmed both convictions and sentences for Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky for violating the civil rights of Luis Ramirez, 25, after a booze-fueled confrontation with a group of white high-school football players in the former mining town of Shenandoah.

Donchak, then 20, and Piekarsky, then 18, were found guilty of the federal charges by a federal jury sitting in Scranton in October 2010. Each was sentenced to nine years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

The federal civil rights charges followed the pair's acquittal by a Schuylkill County jury of state charges, including third-degree murder, involving Ramirez's death.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Donchak and Piekarsky beat and kicked Ramirez because they didn't like Hispanics and wanted them out of their town.

Federal prosecutors subsequently obtained convictions against the former Shenandoah police chief and one of two officers on charges of trying to shield the teens for being held responsible for the attack against Ramirez.