Man arrested for making online threats against city council candidate

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A Florida man has been arrested for making racially-motivated threats online against someone who was trying to run for a seat on the Charlottesville City Council.

Handcuffs / MGN Image / (MGN)

According to a release from the U.S Attorney's Office of Western Virginia, a federal grand jury handed up a sealed indictment on Sept. 11 that charged 31-year-old Daniel McMahon of Brandon, Florida with several charges.

Those charges include 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 on Wednesday 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,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen. “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 Archey, the 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.”

The indictment accused McMahon of threatening physical harm against a city council candidate based on the candidate's race and because of the person's campaigning for elected office in January of this year.

It also says the threats were made with the intent to injure and intimidate the candidate, and they were part of a course of conduct that caused the candidate to fear death and serious bodily injury.

The release says the charges of cyberstalking and transmitting threats in interstate commerce carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the two charges stemming from the threats based on the candidate's race and due to the candidate's running for office each carry a maximum sentence of one-year imprisonment.

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