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Press Release

Former Cornell Student Pleads Guilty to Posting Online Threats Against Jewish Students on Campus

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

WASHINGTON – Patrick Dai, age 21, formerly a junior at Cornell University and originally from Pittsford, New York, pled guilty today to posting threats to kill or injure another person using interstate communications.

“This defendant is being held accountable for vile, abhorrent, antisemitic threats of violence levied against members of the Cornell University Jewish community,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “In the elevated threat environment that we have seen since Oct. 7th, we have been vigilant and stand ready to hold perpetrators of hate crimes accountable. Antisemitic threats of violence are unacceptable in our society, and we will not tolerate this conduct. Particularly at institutions of higher learning, people should feel safe to pursue educational opportunities. The Justice Department takes seriously our obligation to protect students from hatred and harassment and will continue to use every tool available to ensure that students are able to feel safe and secure.”

“Patrick Dai used the internet to make horrific threats to kill and injure Jewish students attending Cornell University. The federal felony conviction he sustains today underscores that those who break the law by making violent threats will be found and prosecuted, even if they attempt to hide by posting anonymously,” said U.S. Attorney Carla Freedman for the Northern District of New York. “The rapid and coordinated investigation by the FBI, New York State Police and Cornell University Police led to Dai’s identification and arrest in a matter of days, bringing relief to both his classmates and the community he terrorized by his actions. His guilty plea today means he will be held accountable for his threats against members of his own Cornell University community.”   

“Patrick Dai’s disturbingly violent threats caused widespread panic and fear throughout Cornell University’s Jewish community,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig L. Tremaroli of the FBI Albany Field Office. “I want to commend our Joint Terrorism Task Force and our outstanding partners from New York State Police and Cornell University Police Department for their swift coordination in identifying and arresting Dai. The FBI will not tolerate any individual who terrorizes our communities and will work closely with our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure our college campuses remain a safe space for students to continue their education free of fear and hate.”

New York State Police Superintendent Steven G. James said, “New York takes pride in its’ diversity. Mr. Dai committed a heinous bias related crime, rooted in hate that is not welcome. We will not tolerate the illegal behavior brought on by these acts. I thank the United States Attorney’s Office and our partners in law enforcement for their collaboration in obstructing these crimes.”

Chief Anthony G. Bellamy, Cornell University Police said, “We are grateful for the diligent work of our law enforcement partners involved in the investigation and legal process. The swift response and investigative efforts illustrate the commitment of Cornell Police and the Division of Public Safety to keep our community safe from threats of targeted violence. We are thankful this matter has come to a just conclusion without further impact and hope this plea and conviction provide some comfort to the affected members of our community.”

As part of his guilty plea, Dai admitted that, on Oct. 28 and 29, 2023, he posted threatening messages to the Cornell section of an online discussion forum, including posts that said “gonna shoot up 104 west” (a dining hall at Cornell University that caters predominantly to Kosher diets and is next to the Cornell Jewish Center that provides residential accommodations for students) and “gonna bomb jewish house.” In another post, Dai threatened to “stab” and “slit the throat” of any Jewish man he saw on campus, to rape and throw off a cliff any Jewish women he saw, and to behead any Jewish babies. In that same post, Dai threatened to “bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig jews.”

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 12, 2024 in Syracuse. Dai faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, restitution to victims and a maximum of three years of supervised release. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the New York State Police, is investigating this case, with assistance from the FBI Albany Field Office, Cornell University Police Department and Ithaca Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Geoffrey J. L. Brown, Stephen C. Green and Michael D. Gadarian for the Northern District of New York are prosecuting the case, with assistance from the Justice Department’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and with assistance from the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section. 

Updated April 10, 2024

Violent Crime