WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Trenton, N.J., has charged Vincent Johnson of Brick, N.J., with threatening employees of five civil rights organizations that work to improve opportunities for and challenge discrimination against Latinos in the United States, announced Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
The 14-count indictment, returned by the grand jury on Feb. 4, 2010, alleges that between November 2006 and February 2009, Johnson, using the internet username "Devilfish579", repeatedly sent threatening e-mail communications to employees of the LatinoJustice Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; the National Council of La Raza; the League of United Latin American Citizens; and the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders. The indictment further alleges that Johnson intended to place the victims in fear of bodily injury and that Johnson acted because the victims were aiding and encouraging persons of Latino descent to participate without discrimination in activities provided by the federal and state governments.
According to the indictment, among multiple e-mails Johnson sent, in November 2006, he wrote "[d]o you have a last will and testament? If not, better get one real soon." Additionally, in January 2007, Johnson sent two e-mails to the victims, stating "[o]ur guns are loaded and we will take you out as well whether by the courts or by true fire power" and "[i]f the idiots in the organizations which this e-mail is being copied to can’t fathom the serious nature of their actions, then they will be on the hit list just like any illegal alien...actually, they are already on the list." In February 2007, he wrote "I am giving you fair warning that your presence and position is being tracked...you are dead meat...along with anyone else in your organization." In September 2007, he sent two e-mails, in which he wrote "my preference would be to buy more ammunition to deal with the growing chaos created by the pro-illegal alien groups. RIP [names] who are not the friends of our democracy" and "[a]fter reading the article below can you give me simply one good reason why someone should not put a bullet between your eyes for your actions that are promoting lawlessness in this country?"
The indictment charges Johnson with five counts of transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce and four counts of using a computer service to place a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury, commonly known as cyberstalking, each of which carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Johnson is also charged with five counts of interfering with the exercise of civil rights, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the Washington Field Office of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Benjamin J. Hawk of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney in Charge Thomas Eicher of the District of New Jersey.