ATLANTA: A Texas man who went on Craigslist to call for the murder of Georgia election officials after the 2020 presidential election was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in prison, the US justice department said.
Chad Christopher Stark pleaded guilty Aug 31 in federal court in the Northern District of Georgia to one count of sending a threat using a telecommunications device, and received the maximum sentence for the crime.
“This sentence should serve as warning — illegal threats against the public servants who make our democracy work will be met with the full force of the Justice Department,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press release.
Stark’s was the first case brought by a federal task force formed in response to a wave of intimidation directed at election administrators since 2020. The election threats task force was announced shortly after Reuters published the first in a series of investigative reports that have documented more than 850 threats and menacing messages to US election workers.
The Stark case relates to efforts by former US president Donald Trump, a Republican, to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory in Georgia. After officials including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that the state’s electoral count was correct and refused to cooperate with efforts to undermine it, both were the target of threats.
Stark, 55, on Jan 5 posted a message on Craigslist calling on “Georgia Patriots” to kill election officials and their families, identified in court documents only as officials A, B and C, and offering to pay US$10,000.
A source familiar with the investigation into Stark told Reuters that two of the officials were Raffensperger and Kemp, both Republicans.
Stark’s case was investigated by the Atlanta field office of the FBI.
“Sending death threats and urging others to act is not protected speech — it is a crime,” said Atlanta special agent in Charge Keri Farley.