Lynnwood, Washington man pleads guilty to making interstate threats and hate crime
Telephoned businesses in four states threatening Black customers and staff
Seattle – A 37-year-old Lynnwood, Washington, man pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to making interstate threats and a hate crime: interference with a Federally Protected Activity, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Joey David George has been in federal custody since his arrest on July 22, 2022. In his plea agreement George admits he made threatening telephone calls from at or near his home in Lynnwood, to grocery stores in Buffalo, New York, restaurants in California and Connecticut, and a marijuana dispensary in Maryland. Sentencing is scheduled in front of U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on December 16, 2022.
According to the plea agreement, on July 19, 20, and 21, 2022, George telephoned multiple grocery stores in Buffalo, New York and threatened to shoot Black people in the stores. George told the staff at the store to “take him seriously” and ordered the store to clear out the customers as he was “nearby” and “preparing to shoot all Black customers.” One store closed. The threats followed a racially motivated shooting at another Buffalo grocery store in May 2022. Law enforcement traced the phone number and identified George as the person who made the calls.
In addition to the calls to Buffalo, George admits that in May 2022, he called a restaurant in San Bruno, California. In that call George allegedly threatened to shoot Black and Hispanic patrons in the restaurant. He told law enforcement that he made the threat to strike fear in the Bay Area Black community.
On September 11, 2021, George called a cannabis dispensary in Rockville, Maryland, and used racial slurs as he threatened to shoot and kill Black people at the business. George admitted his racial hate to local law enforcement who used caller ID to trace the call. The dispensary shut down and hired extra security, causing a loss of over $50,000. On that same day George also called a Denny’s restaurant in Enfield, Connecticut and threatened Black patrons at the restaurant.
In his plea agreement George agrees to pay restitution to the impacted businesses.
Making interstate threats in punishable by up to five years in prison. Interfering with a Federally Protected Activity is punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Prosecutors have agreed to limit their sentencing recommendation to the high end of the federal sentencing guidelines range. Judge Martinez is not bound by prosecutors’ recommendation and can impose any sentence up to the 10-year statutory maximum after considering the sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case was investigated by the FBI with the assistance of multiple local police departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Woods and Rebecca Cohen in consultation with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.