SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Yesterday evening Joseph Joel Morales-Serrano entered a straight plea and was sentenced to time-served and three years of supervised release for his violation of 18 U.S.C. section 875(c), a Class D felony, which is Threatening Interstate Communications, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
On May 6, 2013, at approximately 11:31 p.m., the defendant Joseph Joel Morales Serrano using Twitter name, “Carlito anti Bhatia@leonidadpr,” stated the following directly to Pedro Julio Serrano: “watch out in the march, it can end like in Boston asshole.” Joseph Joel Morales Serrano knowingly sent this message in interstate commerce, online from Puerto Rico and Pedro Julio Serrano received it while in New York.
Defendant admitted that the message contained a true threat to injure Pedro Julio Serrano insofar that it referenced the April 15, 2013 terrorist attack in Boston. The defendant also admitted to law enforcement officers after his arrest that he was trying to upset Pedro Julio Serrano by making his threat.
The victim, Pedro Julio Serrano felt threatened upon receipt of this message, contacted the FBI, and was under the guard of New York Police Department officers for a period of time.
This is the first case in the District of Puerto Rico that has resulted in a felony conviction for threatening hate speech against an individual and specific group in our community.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Luke Cass.