Florida man sentenced for racially motivated threats against Charlottesville City Council candidate
Daniel McMahon, 32, was sentenced today in federal court in the Western District of Virginia to 41 months of imprisonment for threatening an African-American Charlottesville City Council candidate because of his race, and for cyberstalking a separate victim through Facebook messenger.
Following his term of incarceration, McMahon will be placed on three years of supervised release, during which time he will be prohibited from using internet-capable devices without prior court approval.
“Americans have the right to run for office in this country without facing racially-bigoted threats of violence,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “Furthermore, no American should have to live with hateful threats of sexual violence for opposing white nationalism. The Justice Department will continue vigorously to prosecute anyone who attempts to infringe on these civil rights and thereby undermine our democracy.”
“The hallmark of our Nation’s democracy is the right to peacefully protest and engage in an effective exchange of ideas via the political process,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez for the Middle District of Florida. “When either of these rights are infringed, and individuals are targeted, intimidated, or threatened because of their race/ethnicity or beliefs, the cornerstone of our system is put at risk. Today’s sentence demonstrates our intent to work together to preserve our Nation’s founding principles and ensure that all citizens are protected under the law.”
“This defendant weaponized social media to threaten and intimidate his perceived political enemies and propagate a violent white-supremacist ideology,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen of the Western District of Virginia. “Because his online activity crossed the boundary between protected First Amendment expression and unlawful threats and harassment, he will spend considerable time in federal prison.”
“The FBI applauds the sentencing in this case and remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans,” said Special Agent in Charge David W. Archey of the FBI’s Richmond Division. “We also commend the courage of the victims who come forward to report these threats. We are grateful for our partners with the Department of Justice, the FBI Tampa Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Virginia and Florida for their support during this investigation.”
On April 30, 2020, the defendant pled guilty to one count of racially-motivated threats to interfere with an election, and one count of cyberstalking. At the plea hearing, the defendant admitted that he uses the online pseudonyms “Jack Corbin,” “Pale Horse,” “Restore Silent Sam,” and “Dakota Stone,” to promote white supremacy and white nationalist ideology, and to express support for racially-motivated violence.
The defendant admitted that in January 2019, upon learning that D.G., an African-American resident of Charlottesville, planned to announce his candidacy for city council, the defendant used his Jack Corbin account on the social media platform Gab to threaten violence against D.G. because of D.G.’s race and because D.G. was running for office.
The Daily Progress in Charlottesville reported that the D.G. in question was Don Gathers, a deacon and political activist who ultimately dropped out of the City Council race after receiving the threats.
The defendant admitted that his posts used racial slurs and invoked long-standing racial stereotypes, and that he intended for D.G. to understand his posts as threats to his safety.
In addition, the defendant admitted to using his “Restore Silent Sam” Facebook account to cyberstalk a person identified in court documents as Victim 2. In connection with this charge, the defendant admitted that he used Facebook to send Victim 2 numerous intimidating and threatening messages that placed Victim 2 in reasonable fear of harm to Victim 2’s minor child.
The defendant acknowledged that Victim 2 has been active in countering white nationalist rallies in her community. The defendant admitted that, because of Victim 2’s activism, he began an online campaign to intimidate her and to extort information from her about her fellow activists. This included sending Victim 2 numerous messages over the course of twelve days in which he threatened to sexually assault Victim 2’s minor daughter, who has autism.
The defendant admitted that, at around the same time that he sent these messages, he also used the internet to conduct searches relating to sexual contact with girls who have autism. The defendant admitted that his messages reasonably caused Victim 2 serious emotional distress and fear for Victim 2’s child’s safety.