The Justice Department today announced that John Barnett pleaded guilty on November 15, 2005, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to violating the civil rights of members of the Islamic Center of America, located in Detroit, Michigan.
In May 2004, Barnett sent an e-mail from his home computer in North Salem, New York to the Islamic Center of America threatening to hunt down and kill Muslims. The email "from" line indicated that Barnett sent the email, and he confirmed to the FBI that the threatening email message was in fact sent by him. In court papers filed yesterday, Barnett admitted that he made this threat with the intent to intimidate and frighten the members of the Islamic Center from practicing their religion. Barnett pleaded guilty to one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 247(a)(2)(b), which covers damages to religious property. Barnett’s offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in custody-prison.
"All Americans have the right to worship where they choose, undisturbed by intimidation and racist threats," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting anyone who threatens to commit or commits acts of criminal bigotry."
United States Attorney Stephen J. Murphy for the Eastern District of Michigan stated, "Threats against a person based upon the person's free exercise of religious beliefs undermine the foundations upon which democracy is built.”
The guilty plea results from an investigation by the Detroit Field Office of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.