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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 7, 2021

South Florida Resident Guilty of Threatening to Kill Derek Chauvin’s Lawyer

Miami, Florida – A 42-year-old Coral Gables, Florida man pled guilty yesterday in federal district court to threatening the defense attorney of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted earlier this year of murdering George Floyd.

During yesterday’s hearing before U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, William John Hartnett admitted that on April 6, from his location in Miami, he called the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (“MPPOA”) in St. Paul, an organization that funded Chauvin’s defense.  Hartnett left an 18-second message on MPPOA’s voicemail in which he threatened to kill Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s defense lawyer.  In his message, Hartnett yelled: “Hey you and your whole f------ family are going to f------ die, you motherf-----, for representing Chauvin, a f------ murderer.  Now, you all are going to f------ die a worse death than Floyd, you motherf-----.  All of you piece of s----.”    

Hartnett pled guilty to one count of transmitting a threat through interstate communications. Judge Graham, who sits in Miami, will sentence Hartnett on December 15.  He faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami, announced the guilty plea.

FBI Miami investigated the case, with assistance from the MPPOA.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Hayden P. O’Byrne is prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 21-cr-20412.

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Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Marlene Rodriguez Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Public Affairs Officer USAFLS.News@usdoj.gov
Updated October 12, 2021