Federal Grand Jury Indicts Buffalo Man For Threatening To Kill An Individual On Social Media
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Samuel Mara, 24, of Buffalo, NY, with threats by interstate communications and cyberstalking. The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000.
“Much as an act of violence is not a Constitutionally protected form of protest, neither actual threats of violence nor cyberstalking are Constitutionally protected forms of speech,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Here, a federal grand jury has determined that the defendant’s actions in this case crossed the line from protected speech to prosecutable conduct.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua A. Violanti, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment and a previously filed complaint, on June 6, 2020, the FBI and New York State Police began investigating a two (2) hour and ten (10) minute live stream video posted on Facebook Live. The video, apparently taken in front of the Buffalo Police Department -- C District Station, was live streamed by an individual identified as A.M., a close associate of Samuel Mara. In the video, a crowd is peacefully protesting, and at times, A.M. is heard commenting in the video. Defendant Mara is also seen sporadically throughout the video. Approximately 45 minutes into the video, several members of the crowd begin shouting, “hey hey, ho ho, [Victim 1] has got to go.”
Facebook users watching the live stream video posted comments, including information about a purported KKK rally which was allegedly scheduled to take place in downtown Buffalo on the following day. A.M. and defendant Mara are then heard discussing the rally. Mara can be heard saying: “Listen…what they’re gonna do is, they’re gonna drive themselves crazy outta’ all the overwhelming fear and one of them is (inaudible) gonna hurt us or kill us and that’s gonna start (inaudible) and then we gonna do whatever the (expletive) we want. It will happen, we are in power. They are scared. They will act off impulse and they will try to kill us, when they do that. Then they will all die. We will kill them all. I will personally kill [Victim 1].”
As alleged, through the months of June and July of 2020, the defendant continued to make threats directed toward the Victim, members of the Victim’s family, and others. Those threats were made both over social media accounts that defendant controlled as well as directly by defendant to other individuals.
The defendant was arraigned this morning before U.S. District Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and released on conditions.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the New York State Police, under the direction of Major James Hall; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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