A former chief of an extremist group was sentenced to three and a half years in jail on Tuesday for his function in a “swatting” scheme whose targets included journalists, a sitting cupboard secretary and a predominantly Black church, federal prosecutors mentioned.
John Cameron Denton, 27, of Montgomery, Texas, whom the Justice Department recognized as a former chief of the Atomwaffen Division, a paramilitary neo-Nazi group, was sentenced to 41 months in jail for his function in a swatting conspiracy in which he and others reported false claims involving “pipe bombs, hostage takings or other violent activity” to the authorities in hopes of drawing a forceful police response to the entrance door of an unwitting third social gathering.
Their efforts led to assaults on 134 areas throughout the nation from October 2018 to February 2019, in accordance to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Denton and lots of of his co-conspirators “chose targets because they were motivated by racial animus.”
“The defendants caused irreversible trauma to the victims of these hate-based crimes,” Raj Parekh, the performing U.S. lawyer for Virginia’s Eastern District, mentioned in a press release. “This case sends an unmistakable message that those who target individuals because of their race, religion or any other form of bias will be identified, apprehended and brought to justice.”
In February 2020, prices have been first introduced towards Mr. Denton and others related to the Atomwaffen Division, who have been accused of intimidating and harassing journalists and activists.
After his arrest, Mr. Denton signed a plea deal in July, pleading responsible to the cost of committing interstate threats to injure.
According to the authorities, Mr. Denton’s co-conspirators included two international nationals and one other man, John William Kirby Kelley, who was sentenced in March to more than two years in prison.
In an affidavit with the prison criticism towards Mr. Denton, the authorities detailed a number of swatting assaults on areas such because the Alfred Street Baptist Church, a predominantly Black church in Virginia; Old Dominion University, which Mr. Kelley attended; and ProPublica’s New York City workplace in addition to the house of a ProPublica journalist — two targets that Mr. Denton personally singled out for swatting.
The affidavit didn’t determine the “U.S. cabinet official” who was focused in one of many swatting assaults, however final yr, an individual aware of the investigation who was not approved to communicate publicly mentioned that Kirstjen Nielsen, a secretary of homeland safety throughout the Trump administration, was the cabinet official targeted by Atomwaffen.
On Tuesday, Andrew Stewart, a lawyer representing Mr. Denton, mentioned in a press release that his shopper took “full responsibility for his actions and their consequences.”
“He is committed to a process of real change and the court’s well-reasoned sentence today is the next step,” Mr. Stewart mentioned. “He is deeply sorry to the victims of the two swatting calls that he suggested, their families, and anyone else harmed by the conspiracy.”
According to the affidavit, Mr. Denton in January 2020 unknowingly met with an undercover F.B.I. agent at his dwelling, the place he acknowledged having used a voice changer when making swatting calls in addition to having focused journalists who had reported on him and his affiliation with the Atomwaffen Division.
The group is thought for its neo-Nazi and “accelerationist” beliefs, that means they search a societal collapse to make room for a whites-only ethnostate, in accordance to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a corporation that displays hate teams. In July 2020, the group introduced that it had reorganized because the National Socialist Order.