Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen today announced the arrest of a Florida man on federal charges that in January 2019 he made racially-motivated threats against a prospective candidate that interfered with a local election for City Council in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A federal grand jury in the Western District of Virginia returned a sealed indictment on Sept. 11, charging Daniel McMahon, 31, of Brandon, Florida, with four counts: willful interference with a candidate for elective office, bias-motivated interference with a candidate for elective office, threats to injure in interstate commerce, and cyberstalking. The indictment was unsealed today following McMahon’s arrest.
“As alleged in the indictment, this defendant was motivated by racial animus and used his social-media accounts to threaten and intimidate a potential candidate for elective office,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen stated today. “Although the First Amendment protects an individual’s right to broadcast hateful views online, it does not give license to threats of violence or bodily harm. We will continue to prioritize cyber-threat cases, including those giving rise to civil rights violations.”
“The alleged targeted and racially motivated actions by Daniel McMahon were an attempt to disrupt the American political process,” said David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division. “The FBI remains committed to protecting the civil liberties of all Americans. We are grateful for the assistance of the FBI office in Tampa and the partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office during this investigation.”
Specifically, the indictment alleges that McMahon threatened D.G. with physical harm because of D.G.’s race and because D.G. was campaigning for elected office. The indictment further alleges that threats were made with the intent to injure and intimidate D.G., and were part of a course of conduct that caused D.G. to fear death and serious bodily injury. The charges of cyberstalking and transmitting threats in interstate commerce carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The two charges arising from the threats against D.G. because of his race and because he was campaigning for elected office each carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Thomas T. Cullen, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh, and Trial Attorney Risa Berkower of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.