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NJ ‘Devilfish’ gets 5 years in federal prison for threatening Latino civil rights groups

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : A Jersey Shore man was sentenced to 50 months in federal prison Monday for emailing a series of death threats — under the name “Devilfish” — to members of five civil rights organizations that fight discrimination against Latinos in the U.S.

U.S. District Court Judge Anne E. Thompson also fined Vincent Johnson, 61, of Brick $10,000 and required that he remain under supervised release for three years.

Johnson admitted last fall that, from November 2006 to February 2009, he repeatedly sent threatening email 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.

“Do you have a last will and testament? If not, better get one real soon,” one said.

Another: “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.”

And: “[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?”

Finally: “My preference would be to buy more ammunition to deal with the growing chaos created by the pro-illegal alien groups. RIP [names of the victims] who are not the friends of our democracy.”

Johnson admitted that his threats were intended to intimidate advocates and keep them from helping Latinos.

“Johnson admitted that he sent threatening emails to individuals and groups because of who they are and what they believe,” said Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

“Violence or threats of violence based on race, religion, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation are an intolerable violation of our most basic civil rights,” Fishman added. “Hiding behind the perceived anonymity of a computer screen to make hateful threats will provide no protection from prosecution.”

Michael B. Ward, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Newark Division, urged anyone who‘s targeted in the same way to contact authorities immediately.

“The FBI has a very robust and active civil rights violations program and we take threats to civil liberties very seriously,” Ward said. “Anyone who feels they have been victimized in this way should know the FBI is on their side and we are only a phone call away.”

The case was investigated by the Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J., field offices of the FBI, and was prosecuted by both Benjamin J. Hawk of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Eicher of Fishman’s office.

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