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Online threats lead to criminal charges in East Lansing

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2023 | Federal Offenses

The proliferation of social media often tempts individuals to use various platforms as a means of disseminating racist or other unwelcome sentiment. Sometimes, an ill-considered post can lead to serious criminal charges. A resident of the Upper Peninsula recently pled guilty to allegations that he posted antisemitic and other types of threatening messages on line.

The accusations

The defendant in this case, a 19-year-old male who lived in the Upper Peninsula was accused of posting threats that included comments praising neo-Nazi ideology and threatening mass shootings. The man admitted to one count of transmitting a threatening communication after he was accused of posting several threats on social media platforms including Instagram. The threats included antisemitic messages and posts glorifying mass shootings.

The arrest

The defendant’s arrest was triggered by a tip that someone was using Instagram to threaten to commit a mass killing. The defendant wrote in one post that “I won’t be taken alive [sic] “I’ll make sure of that. Remember ‘Heil, Hitler.’” Investigators learned the suspect’s name and soon began to parse his mother’s Facebook account. They found a cat in one of the photos who had markings very similar to a cat in another photo found on the mother’s Facebook account. The cat’s markings were used as a clue to the suspect’s identity. In making the arrest, the FBI special agent in charge of the

Agency’s Michigan office said that “When free speech crosses a line and becomes a threat of violence against another, the full investigative resources of the FBI will be deployed.” The defendant was arrested at his home on June 16, 2023.

The alleged crime

The defendant’s alleged threats constitute a federal crime, for which he could face up to 5 years in prison. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 4, 2024.