Man sentenced to prison for death threats to FCC chairman over net neutrality repeal

Man sentenced to prison for death threats to FCC chairman over net neutrality repeal
© Anna Moneymaker

A California man was sentenced to more than a year and a half in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to threatening to kill the family of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai over the repeal of net neutrality regulations.

Markara Man, 33, had sent emails to Pai’s accounts in December 2017, listing locations in or around Arlington, Va., and threatening to kill his family members, the Justice Department said in a release. He also sent an image of Pai that, in the background, featured a photograph of his family.

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In another email, Man claimed that Pai was responsible for the alleged suicide of a child over the net neutrality rollback.

The FBI was able to trace the emails to Man’s home in California, and he admitted to agents that he sent the email threatening Pai’s family.

Man faced up to 10 years in prison on the charges, but was ultimately sentenced to 20 months.

“Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

“This prosecution shows not only that we take criminal threats seriously, but also that online threats of violence have real world consequences.”

Pai said months after the FCC’s vote to roll back the Obama-era net neutrality rules that his wife and family were still receiving threatening messages and phone calls over the move.