Nanuet Man Charged with Threatening to Kill Federal and State Officials and Illegal Possession of a Weapon
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 25, 2013|
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Thomas P. Zugibe, the Rockland County District Attorney; George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Chief Michael Sullivan of the Clarkstown Police Department announced today the filing of federal and state criminal charges today against Lawrence Mulqueen of Nanuet, New York. Mulqueen faces federal charges for threatening to kill federal officials and others and separate state charges for criminal possession of a weapon. He was initially taken into custody on state charges on February 21, 2013, and was charged federally today. He is scheduled to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in White Plains federal court tomorrow.
U.S. Attorney Bharara stated, “As alleged, Lawrence Mulqueen maliciously abused the power and reach of Facebook to call for murder—making bloody, incendiary death threats against federally elected officials and others. He even provided his like-minded Facebook friends with a virtual ‘how to’ on the most effective weapons to use in making good on those threats, as described in the complaint. The Internet is a forum for free expression, but it does not give anyone carte blanche to break the law.”
Rockland County District Attorney Zugibe stated, “In our fast-paced world of status updates and tweets, behavior of this type must be treated seriously and investigated promptly to ensure that all threats or indications of potential violence are mitigated and do not escalate. Overt threats of the sort made by this defendant against our elected leaders are especially troubling and must be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. I want to thank U.S. Attorney Bharara and his team for their good work and partnership in bringing this dangerous individual to justice.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos stated, “The defendant is alleged not only to have threatened to kill elected officials. He did the virtual equivalent of standing in the town square with a megaphone, using his Facebook page to exhort others to carry out these assassinations. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, but making overt threats is not protected speech, it’s a crime.”
Clarkstown Police Chief Sullivan stated, “We’re pleased and proud to work with other local and federal law enforcement agencies to bring this person into custody and to protect our elected officials and all other citizens.”
According to the allegations in the complaint filed today in White Plains federal court:
In February 2013, Mulqueen posted numerous messages to his page on the online social networking site Facebook, threatening to kill members of the United States Congress, state and local elected officials, and others. Among other things, Mulqueen posted on February 20 that he “[could] not wait to start killing” multiple United States senators and members of the United States House of Representatives, as well as a governor and mayor, adding that their “dirt nap [was] coming very soon.”
Mulqueen instructed people who commented on his posts to secure a “high powered rifle” and recommended a particular Italian-manufactured shotgun as “very light and...semi- automatic, [with] no need to pump or reload.” He added that readers should “[u]se blades when you can to conserve bullets.” In other posts, Mulqueen commanded readers to seek out and kill other individuals, including at least one political activist.
According to the allegations in the indictment returned today in Rockland County Court:
Mulqueen is charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a class D felony. Mulqueen faces a maximum term of three-and-a-half to seven years on this charge
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Mulqueen, 49, is charged in the federal complaint with one count of threatening to kill federal officials and one count of transmitting threats in interstate commerce. He faces a maximum federal penalty of 15 years in prison.
Mr. Bharara and Mr. Zugibe praised the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Clarkstown Police Department.
The charges contained in the federal complaint and the state indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilan Graff is in charge of the prosecution.