Damien Patton, a tech CEO and founder of Utah-based surveillance company Banjo, has resigned news media reported that he had been a member of a white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and once participated in a drive-by shooting.
Patton, 17 at the time, was involved with a Tennessee neo-Nazi group and pled guilty to being a getaway driver in a drive-by shooting of a synagogue in 1990.
Patton’s neo-Nazi history had largely evaded scrutiny, in part because his name was misspelled on two court filings related to the crimes. He has been profiled by media outlets including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times in recent years without his past KKK affiliations surfacing.
“I am deeply ashamed of this time in my life and feel sincere remorse and deep regret for my affiliation with hateful groups whose actions and beliefs are completely despicable, immoral and indefensible,” he wrote in a blog post announcing his resignation.
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Banjo, which Patton co-founded in 2010, has raised more than $120 million from backers including SoftBank. The Banjo app aggregates social media posts to help police predict and respond to potential crimes in real time.
The startup has a $20.7 million contract with the state of Utah. The University of Utah, which paid $500,000 a year for Banjo’s services, has terminated its contract .
“He is out here hiring people and getting $500K state contracts with a history of doing drive-by shootings for the KKK,” digital media entrepreneur Jamarlin Martin tweeted.