A California man who emailed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and threatened to murder his children in 2017 has been sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Markara Man, 33, was arrested last year at his Norwalk, California residence where FBI agents recovered digital evidence he’d threatened the life of the chairman’s children. Prosecutors said the man was upset over Pai’s decision to repeal the FCC’s Obama-era net neutrality rules.
A federal case was brought against Markara last June in the Eastern District of Virginia. He pleaded guilty in September. In addition to the 20 months, which includes time served, he was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
Even after he pleaded guilty, which qualified him for a reduced sentence under U.S. guidelines, Markara was facing more than four years in prison. His sentencing record states that a “Letter from chairman” was included in a report prepared by the court’s probation officer. It’s unclear what was said in the letter.
Chairman Pai did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Court records show Markara wrote to Pai’s government email address multiple times in December 2017 after the FCC voted to repeal the net neutrality rules. Days before, the commission was forced to evacuate due to a bomb threat by another individual.
In one email, on December 20, Markara wrote: “I will find your children and I will kill them.” The email also included the names and addresses of three schools in or around the Arlington, Virginia, area. None were attended by Pai’s children, however.
In another email sent minutes later, Markara attached a photo of the chairman that included a framed picture of his wife and kids in the foreground.
During the FBI search of his home, Markara attempted to delete data off his phone by initiating a factory reset and then lied about it, agents said. But during questioning, he admitted to sending the emails.
He also wrote an apology letter to Pai, according to court records, which stated, “I’m sorry I made a threat against your kids. That was crossing the line. I hope you’ll change your mind on net neutrality.”
After Markara pleaded guilty in September, Pai thanked the Justice Department, FBI, and FCC security officials for protecting his family. “I am deeply grateful for all they have done to keep us safe,” he said.