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U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke sentenced a Miami-area man to 12 months and one day in prison and three years’ supervised release for threatening to shoot members of a mosque in Miami Gardens, Florida, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg for the Southern District of Florida.
Gerald Wallace, 35, pleaded guilty in October 2017 in the Southern District of Florida to one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs for making the threatening call. During the plea hearing, Wallace admitted that on the evening of Feb. 19, 2017, Wallace left a voicemail message for the Islamic Center of Greater Miami, located in Miami Gardens, Florida. The defendant admitted leaving a hate-filled and profanity-laden message against Islam, the prophet Mohammed, and the Koran, during which he threatened to go to the mosque, and stated, “I’m gonna shoot all ya’ll.” He further admitted that by leaving this threatening message, he obstructed congregants who worship at the Islamic Center from freely exercising their religious beliefs.
“Our Constitution and laws guarantee all people – regardless of where they worship – the right to live free from violence and discrimination,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who commit violent acts of hate by threat or action.”
“Hate crimes violate our country’s most fundamental principles,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. “Today, Wallace was sentenced for depriving the Islamic Center’s congregants of the right to freely exercise their religion. This office will continue to aggressively prosecute hate crimes in order to protect those in our community who would otherwise fall victim to discriminatory violence.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force and the Miami Gardens Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry C. Wallace, Jr. of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Civil Rights Division.