After arguing that a blog posting he authored that threatened to kill a San Francisco police officer, his wife and his child was protected speech, a local man has now admitted in Federal Court that his actions were in fact criminal.
Jeffrey Lynn Weaver, 47, of Roanoke, pleaded guilty today to one count of transmitting in interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure, specially to injure a San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer. Weaver also entered a guilty plea to one count of copyright infringement.
"While every American citizen has the right to free speech, that right does not grant a person the right to threaten the life of another," United States Attorney Julia C. Dudley said today. "When speech crosses the line from dialogue and political hyperbole to a serious expression of an intent to commit a violent act, legal action must be taken."
"The FBI is fully committed to the protection of the freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. However, when one crosses the line into directly threatening the safety and wellbeing of another, that is another matter all together. The line was crossed in this particular case when a direct threat was made against the life of a police office and his family, including a newborn infant," said Jennifer Smith Love, Special Agent in Charge of the Richmond Division of the FBI.
Weaver, who lived in the Bay Area of California for several years before moving back to Roanoke in 2002, posted the threat on the internet news discussion website "infowars.com." Weaver, while in a discussion about a violent incident involving a San Francisco police officer, wrote, in part:
"...now that I know who he is and where he is its only a matter of time and his punishment will be to watch his B---- and his baby get wasted in front of him and then he joins the B---- and the baby in hell when I finish the job by wasting his Pigs—Ass."
Today in District Court, Weaver also pleaded guilty to one count of copyright infringement for his involvement in a scheme to illegally download full-length feature movies for private financial gain. Following a search of his residence, authorities recovered thousands of illegally downloaded movies, many of which were multiple copies of the same movie.
Weaver was arrested on a criminal complaint on June 1, 2009 and has been in custody since that day. At sentencing, Weaver faces a maximum sentence of six years incarceration and/or a fine of up to $350,000. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for November 16, 2009.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation both in Roanoke and San Francisco. United States Attorney Julia C. Dudley and Assistant United States Attorney Ashley B. Neese prosecuted the case for the United States.