ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A California man pleaded guilty today to threatening to kill the family of Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, for Pai’s role in repealing regulations relating to net neutrality.
According to court documents, on or about Dec. 19 and 20, 2017, Markara Man, 33, of Norwalk, California, sent three emails to Chairman Pai’s email accounts. The first email accused Chairman Pai of being responsible for a child who allegedly had committed suicide because of the repeal of net neutrality regulations. The second email listed three locations in or around Arlington, and threatened to kill the Chairman’s family members. The third email had no message in its body, but included an image depicting Chairman Pai and, in the foreground and slightly out of focus, a framed photograph of Chairman Pai and his family. The FBI traced the emails to Man’s residence in Norwalk, California, and when initially confronted in May 2018, Man admitted to the FBI that he sent the email threatening Chairman Pai’s family.
Court documents further show that during the FBI’s search of his residence, Man factory reset a cell phone upon learning of the search and before law enforcement could seize the phone. This action caused data to be wiped from the device. When asked about the phone being in setup mode, Man lied to the FBI and claimed that he had received it a month earlier and not set it up yet.
Man faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on December 7. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and M. Jay Farr, Arlington County Chief of Police, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander P. Berrang is prosecuting the case.
The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and the Federal Protective Service provided significant assistance in this investigation.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-CR-308.