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Press Release

Howard County Man Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison for Threatening an LGBTQI+ Advocacy Group

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Defendant Also Sent Threatening Messages to Maryland and Virginia State Delegates Due to Their Support of Transgender People

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III today sentenced Adam Michael Nettina, age 34, of West Friendship, Maryland, to two years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for using the telephone to make death threats and other calls for violence against a group that advocates for LGBTQI+ people.  According to the evidence presented by the government at today’s sentencing hearing, Nettina also sent threatening messages to Maryland and Virginia state delegates due to their support of transgender people.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; and Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.

“You have the right to your own opinions, but you don’t have the right to threaten the lives of those who disagree with you.  As this case demonstrates, free speech does not include violent threats against others,” said United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron.  “We’ll continue prosecuting these threats to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This defendant targeted and threatened members of the LGBTQI+ community and their allies, instilling fear and promoting violence toward a heavily targeted community,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to combating threats against public officials and protected communities. We will work tirelessly to expunge the growing threat posed by bias-motivated acts of violence directed at the LGBTQI+ community and their allies.”

“Threats of violence made against people and organizations to instill fear will not be tolerated,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work diligently to ensure the civil rights of all Americans are protected.”

According to court documents, on the evening of March 28, 2023, the victim organization received a threatening voicemail from a phone number, which investigators identified as belonging to Adam Michael Nettina.  The message referenced the March 27, 2023, mass shooting at a school in Nashville, Tennessee, involving multiple shooting fatalities, where police identified the perpetrator as a transgender woman.  During the call, numerous threats were made including, “ . . . We’ll cut your throats.  We’ll put a bullet in your head . . . . You’re going to kill us?  We’re going to kill you ten times more in full.” 

Nettina admitted that he left this voicemail for the purpose of issuing a threat and with the knowledge that the voicemail would be viewed as a threat.  Further, Nettina intentionally selected the advocacy organization as a target of his message because of the actual and perceived gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation of the people who work at and are assisted by the organization.

As detailed in his plea agreement, on March 31, 2022, a Maryland State Delegate posted a message of support on social media in honor of Trans Day of Visibility.  Nettina responded on social media later that same day, which stated, among other things, that he had “begun the formal process of getting you excommunicated . . . ” from the Catholic Church.  On November 8, 2022, the delegate was reelected.  Nettina sent the delegate another message on social media, stating: “ . . . Baby killing terrroist.  Enjoy hell You’re going sooner than you think.”

Finally, as outlined in the court documents, on October 13, 2022, an online news story was published about an interview a Virginia State Delegate gave in which she advocated for the prevention of abuse towards transgender children.  Two days later, on October 15, 2022, Nettina used the internet to send an email to the delegate’s press email account, stating: “The delegate is a terrorist. You are a terrorist.  You deserve to be shot and hung in the streets.  You want to come after people?  Let’s go b**ch.”  Nettina also sent a similar message to another email address of the delegate two minutes later.  Nettina intentionally selected the delegate and her campaign staff as the recipient of his email because of the actual and perceived gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation of the people and constituents for whom the delegate had expressed support.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke commended the FBI for its work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron and Ms. Clarke thanked Assistant U.S. Paul E. Budlow and Trial Attorney Tara Allison of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, who prosecuted the federal case.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland (USAO-MD) launched the national Department of Justice initiative, United Against Hate.  Together with our local partners, USAO-MD’s United Against Hate campaign will empower local residents and communities to combat unlawful acts of hate, stand against racism and discrimination and alter the course of growing intolerance. 

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

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Contact

Marcia Lubin
(410) 209-4854

Updated January 11, 2024

Topic
Civil Rights