A man who threatened to kill the family of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was today sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Markara Man, a 33-year-old from California, pleaded guilty�on August 31, 2018 after making threats to Pai because he disagreed with the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules. In one email to Pai, Man wrote, "I will find your children and kill them."
"Threatening to actually kill a federal officials family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal, US Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia said in a Justice Department announcement of the sentencing today. The case was heard at the�US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Man was�sentenced to 20 months in prison with credit for time served, along with supervised release for three years with special conditions. Those conditions include participating in a substance abuse program and mental health treatment as well as paying "any outstanding balancing towards his location monitoring financial obligation." During the supervised release, Man will not be allowed to use or possess a computer without probation officer approval, and he will have to comply with computer monitoring requirements.
Days after the FCC's December 2017 vote to repeal of net neutrality rules, Man sent three emails to Pai.
"The first email accused Chairman Pai of being responsible for a child who allegedly had committed suicide because of the repeal of net neutrality regulations," the Justice Department announcement said. "The second email listed three locations in or around Arlington and threatened to kill the Chairmans family members. The third email had no message in its body, but included an image depicting Chairman Pai and, in the foreground and slightly out of focus, a framed photograph of Chairman Pai and his family. The FBI traced the emails to Mans residence in Norwalk, California, and when initially confronted in May 2018, Man admitted to the FBI that he sent the email threatening Chairman Pais family."
Man pleaded guilty to the crime of�intimidating, interfering with, or retaliating against a federal official by threatening to murder a family member. He could have faced as much as 10 years in prison.
When Man admitted making the threats, he told federal law enforcement officers that he was angry about the net neutrality repeal because "they�pretty much ignored, like, 80 percent of comments... they ignored us, and just didn't care," according to an FBI affidavit. Man's attorney attributed his actions to mental illness, telling the court that his client was being successfully treated.
After Man's guilty plea last year,� Pai issued a statement�thanking law enforcement and FCC security officials "for their hard work protecting my family and me."