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Press Release

McHenry Man Arrested For Allegedly Threatening US Embassy Officials In Serbia And Serbians In Chicago Over Visa Dispute

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO – RUSSELL K. GORDON, 48, of rural McHenry, Ill., was arrested at his home Saturday night by special agents of the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly making threatening communications to kill State Department officials, including the U.S. Ambassador in Serbia, as well as Serbians in Chicago, apparently due to a visa dispute involving his wife in Serbia. Gordon is scheduled to have his initial court appearance at 2:30 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox in the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago.

According to a criminal complaint affidavit, Gordon, a U.S. citizen, lived in Serbia from 1996 to November 2012, and married a Serbian woman who had a child whose father was a Serbian national. In September 2012, Serbian courts awarded custody of the child to the biological father.

Starting in February 2013, Gordon allegedly sent threatening or intimidating text messages to a U.S. Embassy consular assistant in Belgrade, Serbia. On April 15, and again on May 12, the FBI in Chicago received an email, purportedly from Gordon, at a publicly available email account that allegedly was consistent with his prior threatening messages, which are detailed in the complaint affidavit. Last Friday, Gordon’s wife went to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade to request a visa for entry into the U.S., and told embassy officials that Gordon had developed detailed plans to shoot Serbian citizens in Chicago, including diplomats at places he believed Serbians routinely congregated. On Saturday, Gordon’s wife told the consulate chief at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade that Gordon was enraged upon learning that his wife would receive only a two-week guest visa, and that he was going to kill the U.S. Ambassador, his wife, their two daughters and another State Department employee.

The arrest and charge were announced today by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Cornell Chasten, Special Agent-in-Charge of the DSS Field Office in Chicago; and Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. DSS Offices in Belgrade and Washington, D.C. provided significant assistance in the investigation. The McHenry Police Department, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and the Kane County Bomb Squad assisted in Gordon’s arrest on Saturday and with the execution of a search warrant at his home on Friday.

If convicted, Gordon faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ridgway.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that the defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


Updated July 27, 2015