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Press Release

Massachusetts Man Sentenced to More Than Seven Years in Prison for Threatening and Harassing Interracial Couple and Obstructing Justice

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant has extensive criminal history and regularly posted white supremacy symbolism on Facebook

BOSTON – A Massachusetts man was sentenced today for threatening an interracial couple via Facebook Messenger in January 2021, and to attempting to prevent the couple from reporting the threats and harassment to law enforcement.

Stephen M. DeBerardinis, 48, of Boston and Dedham, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs to 90 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. In March 2024, DeBerardinis pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting in interstate commerce threats to injure a person; one count of tampering with a witness and victim by intimidation, threats, and corrupt persuasion; and one count of tampering with a witness and victim by harassment. 

“The toxic brew of racist hate, threats of violence and use of social media to amplify vile and violent attitudes is a corrosive danger to every law-abiding member of our community. The nearly eight-year sentence imposed on this defendant should send a message that when you engage in hate crimes, there is a serious price to be paid. This defendant’s horrifying and vicious threats were not only imperiled the safety and well-being of the victims here, but they were also a broadside attack on the values of equality and respect that our nation upholds. This office is deeply grateful for the victims’ courage to report this incident to law enforcement and assist us in prosecuting this important case,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “Hate crimes and acts of intimidation have no place in our society. Our office will continue to work tirelessly to combat hate crimes and to foster an environment where every member of our community can live without fear of violence or discrimination.”

“Stephen DeBerardinis is a career criminal with multiple felony convictions who continued to demonstrate a blatant disregard for the law by sending a series of horribly racist, hate-motivated threats of brutal violence to an interracial couple he had never met,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “It’s time to stop this defendant from committing further harm, and today’s sentence does exactly that. It also serves as a warning to other repeat offenders that the FBI and our partners will continue to root out and bring to justice anyone who is intent on threatening violence based on racism or bigotry.”

In late December 2020, the victims, a white woman and a Black man, announced their engagement on Facebook and included photographs of themselves. DeBerardinis, who did not know the couple personally, could view the announcement and photographs because he was a friend of one or more of the victims’ Facebook friends. 

On Jan. 6, 2021, DeBerardinis, using his own Facebook account, used Facebook Messenger to send the couple a series of threatening and harassing messages. For example, DeBerardinis wrote, “EWWWWWWWW YOUR A N***** F***** F****** DIRTY A** WHITE TRASH,” and continued with similar messages. When the couple messaged DeBerardinis that they were reporting him to law enforcement, he sent them a message that said, “SNITCHES GET STITCHES” with a picture of brass knuckles. DeBerardinis also threatened, “Read up more on me lol… you will see how me and my crew burn n*****s alive,” and “And white whores like you well [sic]…. get rape and killed THAN [sic] we cut off body parts and mail them to your family lol.” The victims reported the incident to local police, who contacted federal law enforcement. 

According to court filings, a subsequent investigation revealed DeBerardinis’ extensive criminal record of more than 100 arrests over the past 24 years, including prior state convictions for threats, intimidation, false reports of a crime, impersonation of a police officer, and larceny, among other crimes. The investigation also revealed that in September 2021, months after his Facebook threats to the interracial couple, DeBerardinis threatened a journalist who wrote an unflattering article about his involvement in a protest where he was seen trying to punch protestors at a rally. In addition, DeBerardinis’ Facebook account contained multiple posts of race motivated, hate filled speech and white supremacist symbolism:

Defendant's Facebook account contained multiple posts of race motivated, hate filled speech and white supremacist symbolism

During a search of his residence, over 70 knives, 22 brass knuckles, swords, bullets, black powder for guns, stun guns, rifles and a number of other weapons were recovered. According to court filings, the investigation located photos of weapons posted on DeBerardinis’ Facebook. 

the investigation located photos of weapons posted on DeBerardinis’ Facebook.

  Acting U.S. Attorney Levy; FBI SAC Cohen; and Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox made the announcement today. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Torey B. Cummings of the Civil Rights & Human Trafficking Unit and Nadine Pellegrini, Chief of the National Security Unit, prosecuted the case.

Updated June 11, 2024

Violent Crime