A man who prosecutors say threatened to kill the family of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai over the repeal of “net neutrality” regulations was arrested Friday in Los Angeles.
Markara Man, 33, of Norwalk, Calif., was charged in Alexandria, Va., federal court with one count of intimidating a federal official by threatening to murder a family member.
According to an affidavit filed in court by John Bamford, an Arlington, Va., police officer working for the FBI, Man sent Pai three threatening emails in December, not long after Pai voted to repeal the 2015 regulation that required Internet providers to serve all websites at the same speed.
Pai said in the fall that someone also put signs outside his home before the vote, one of which read: “They will come to know the truth. Dad murdered Democracy in cold blood.” He canceled his customary trip to the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January, citing security concerns.
The first email from Man claimed that “two kids have killed themselves” over net neutrality, according to the affidavit. “Their blood is forever on your hands.”
The second listed three preschools around Arlington, where Pai lives, and said, “I will find your children and I will kill them.” None of the schools was attended by any of Pai’s children, according to law enforcement.
The third contained a photograph of Pai in which a framed picture of his family is visible.
Bamford traced the email account — firstname.lastname@example.org — to Man.
According to the affidavit, Man told Bamford in an interview that he wanted to “scare” Pai because the FCC commissioners “pretty much ignored, like, 80 percent of comments . . . they ignored ‘us,’ and just didn’t care.”
He added that he “was not really thinking” and was “just angry and frustrated.”
He said he created that email account to cover his tracks but also to sound “tougher.”
Bamford said Man showed him a letter to Pai that read in part, “I’m sorry I made a threat against your kids. That was crossing the line. I hope you’ll change your mind . . . but I doubt it.”
If convicted, Man faces up to 10 years in prison.