U.S. Attorney’s Office Presents Case Study on “Swastika Branding Case” During Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission’s Hate Crime Awareness Seminars
ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Michael David Fox was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day in prison and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine. Fox, 60, of Las Cruces, pleaded guilty to interstate transmission of threatening communication on Sept. 20, 2023.
According to court documents, on May 18, 2023, Fox left a voicemail for the office of a congresswoman for the District of Texas, calling her a “tranny and a pedophile” and threatening to “put a bullet” in her face. Law enforcement was able to trace the call to Fox.
On May 26, 2023, Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed Fox at his residence in Las Cruces and he admitted to making the threat. Fox claimed to believe that transgender individuals had infiltrated the government and other institutions and that he was part of a movement aimed at “eradicating” those people.
At sentencing, the court found that Fox intentionally selected the congresswoman as a victim because he mistakenly believed she was transgender, and therefore the court applied a hate crime motivation enhancement to his sentence.
In his plea agreement, Fox acknowledged that he was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when he made the call and that he was not merely making a political argument, idle talk, an exaggeration, or a joke.
“While everyone is entitled to believe irrational ideas, no belief entitles someone to threaten violence,” said U.S. Attorney Uballez. “Hate crimes drive division and fear and we have no room for either. Federal law enforcement will stand up for our community by delivering very real consequences to very real threats, even when they are driven by fantasy.”
“Hate crimes are not only an attack on a victim; these violent acts threaten and intimidate an entire community.” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda. “The FBI and our partners will not tolerate crimes motivated by hate, and we will vigorously pursue those that commit them.”
Upon his release from prison, Fox will be subject to 3 years of supervised probation.
The Las Cruces Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Lindy Carpenter is prosecuting the case.
In response to growing incidents of hate, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the Justice Department to develop the United Against Hate (UAH) community outreach program. Led by U.S. Attorneys, the program improves hate crime and incident reporting by teaching community members how to identify, report, and prevent acts of hate. The program also helps to build trust between community and law enforcement and strengthens local networks to combat unlawful acts of hate.
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