New Jersey man jailed for racist threats to Latino groups

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 19, 2011 12:57 PM
New Jersey man jailed for racist threats to Latino groups

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A New Jersey man was behind bars on Tuesday starting to serve a 50-month sentence for making racist threats online against several Latino organizations.

Vicious online messages were part of a "hate-filled campaign of fear" launched by Vincent Johnson, 61, of Brick, New Jersey, said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who works in the civil rights division.

Authorities said Johnson sent threatening emails to groups including the National Council of La Raza, which describes itself as the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country.

Johnson, who called himself "Devilfish" in his on-line messages, pleaded guilty last October to 10 counts of threatening conduct. U.S. District Court Judge Anne Thompson sentenced him to prison on Monday.

"Vincent Johnson's intent was crystal clear: he wanted to strike fear in the hearts of Latino and Hispanic activists in hopes of dissuading their activity," said Michael B. Ward, special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark office.

The Justice Department said that among the emails Johnson sent was one that said there "can be absolutely no argument against the fact that Mexicans are scum..." The email went on to use explicit language.

Perez, who works in the civil rights division, said, "Racially charged threats of violence have no place in civilized society and the Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who engage in such reprehensible conduct."

(Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)