Baltimore, Maryland – Michael Marotta, age 26, of Sewell, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today to making threatening interstate communications. Marotta admitted that he used an anonymizing text message service to threaten physical harm to a Black woman and her family in Maryland.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Assistant Attorney General Kristen M. Clarke of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
“We at the U.S. Attorney’s Office take seriously our obligation to protect the civil rights of all individuals,” said United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron. “We will not tolerate racially based threats and will prosecute such crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The vile threats issued by this defendant have no place in civilized society,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The department, and specifically the Civil Rights Division, will use all tools at our disposal to ensure that people who interfere with the rights of others will be brought to justice.”
“The FBI takes threats of violence seriously,” said Thomas J. Sobocinksi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “We encourage anyone who believes their civil rights were violated to report it to their local police department or FBI field office.”
According to Marotta’s plea agreement, on April 14, 2020, Marotta used an anonymizing mobile phone application, to send a threatening message to a Black Maryland woman. In the message, Marotta used racial epithets to describe the Maryland woman and her family, and he threatened to come to their home and do physical harm. As detailed in the plea agreement, Marotta wrote, among other things, that “I know where you live now, I’m coming to rape your family” and “eat my bullets.” As detailed in his plea agreement, Marotta claims he does not know the recipient-victim of the message, nor does the recipient-victim know Marotta.
Marotta faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 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. U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher has scheduled sentencing for Marotta on May 26, 2022.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron and Assistant Attorney General Kristen M. Clarke commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Cunningham and Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and its Civil Rights Unit, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/civil-rights.
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