Federal Court Sentences Clinton Man on Threating Communication Charge
DAVENPORT, IA—On December 4, 2015, Gerald W. Ledford, age 57, of Clinton, Iowa, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Stephanie M. Rose to four years’ probation, with the first six months in home confinement, after pleading guilty to transmitting a threatening communication, announced Acting United States Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel. Ledford was also ordered to pay $100 to the Crime Victims Fund, to have no contact with the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center or any of its employees, to allow a search of his residence under certain conditions, and to restrict his possession of a computer or access to the Internet without prior approval by the United States Probation Office.
On October 20, 2014, an employee of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) discovered two messages posted to the ISBCC’s Facebook page. The ISBCC is located in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and is a member of the New England Muslim community. According to its website, the ISBCC is not just a mosque, but a dynamic cultural center that is designed to serve the entire community by offering a variety of educational, spiritual, and social services. The first post made derogatory statements about “Mohamed,” and made threats to harm Muslims. The second post also made a threat of violence toward Muslims.
The Facebook page posting these two messages displayed the name “Gerry Ledford” and was identified with a unique account identification number. This account was deactivated on November 14, 2014. A “friend” of this account was another Facebook publically viewable page under the name of “Gerry.ledford.3,” also with a unique account identification number. Search warrants were obtained for both of these Facebook accounts. Based on information obtained from these search warrants these accounts had certain personal identifiers, such as date of birth, hometown, current city of residence, educational history and digital photographs that were consistent with the same personally identifiable information about Gerald Ledford. Both accounts logged in from an identified Internet Protocol (IP) address identified to a known family member of Ledford’s. Information obtained from the search warrants showed that one of these identified Facebook accounts conducted a search for the ISBCC on October 19, 2014. A day before the posted messages, one of these Facebook accounts was used to search for information about the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” and two minutes later a search for information on the “Islamic Society of Boson Cultural Center (ISBCC).” Additional searches were conducted on similar topics both before and after October 19, 2014.
Gerald Ledford admitted in his plea proceeding that he was the individual user registered to these Facebook accounts, that on or about October 19, 2014, he knowingly posted these two threatening messages, and that he individually selected this victim because of the religious affiliation of ISBCC. Gerald Ledford further admitted that he knew that these two messages would be viewed as a threat.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Clinton, Iowa, Police Department. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.