Big quote: “This prosecution shows not only that we take criminal threats seriously, but also that online threats of violence have real-world consequences.” — G. Zachary Terwilliger, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Markara Man sent Pai emails back on December 19 and 20, 2017 threatening to kill him and his family. As you may recall, this was around the time that the FCC repealed net neutrality rules.
Man, who was arrested by the FBI back in June of last year, had first accused Pai and the repeal for the death of a teenager that had committed suicide. Subsequent emails contained death threats to Pai and his family including specific addresses around Arlington, Virginia supposedly to prove he was serious. His last email included an attached image of the FCC head and his family.
“Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal.”
The emails were turned over to the FBI, which launched an investigation. The address on the emails led them to Norwalk, California. Man admitted to special agents that he had sent the emails from “Stubblemanliness@gmail.com” so that he would sound “tougher,” but that he only wanted to scare Pai and never intended to hurt him or his family.
His defense of not intending to hurt the chairman was weak to begin with, but his actions after being caught did not help it any. Agents say that after they contacted him at his home, Man proceeded to factory reset his phone to wipe evidence from it. When confronted about the reset, Man lied claiming he said he had bought the phone a month prior and had not set it up yet.
“Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal,” said US Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger. “This prosecution shows not only that we take criminal threats seriously, but also that online threats of violence have real-world consequences.”
Man was sentenced to more than 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to the crime.