CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A Florida man was arrested Wednesday on charges that he cyberstalked and made racist threats against a black activist in Virginia to interfere with his plans to run for a seat on Charlottesville's city council.
Daniel McMahon, 31, of Brandon, Florida, was indicted in Virginia on charges that include bias-motivated interference with a candidate for elective office. McMahon was arrested near Tampa, Florida, after his indictment was unsealed, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco.
The indictment says McMahon expressed white supremacist views on his social media accounts.
Court records don't name the activist McMahon is accused of harassing, identifying him only by the initials "D.G." The Sept. 11 indictment says the activist, a Democrat, had planned to announce his City Council candidacy in January, a day after local news outlets in Charlottesville reported he was mounting a campaign.
McMahon, "by threat of force and violence," used his social media accounts to intimidate the activist and interfere with his campaign, the indictment alleges. The activist learned of McMahon's threats before he announced that he wouldn't be running for office, at an event where he had planned to announce his candidacy, the indictment says.
The indictment doesn't elaborate on why McMahon allegedly targeted the activist or specify the nature of the alleged threats. However, in August 2017, Charlottesville was the site of a white nationalist rally that erupted in violent clashes between far-right extremists and counterprotesters. An avowed white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens of other people.
McMahon's Tampa-based attorney, Nick Matassini Jr., said his client "categorically denies all of the allegations" in the indictment.
"He is looking forward to his day in court," Matassini said.
McMahon made his initial court appearance in Tampa on Wednesday and was ordered held in custody at a county jail pending a detention hearing on Monday, according to his lawyer.
McMahon has used the alias "Jack Corbin" in his online activities and had several of his posts shared by Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers on the Gab social media platform, according to Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. Bowers spewed anti-Semitic hatred on his Gab account before killing 11 people and wounding seven inside the synagogue, authorities said.
A November 2018 report on the law center's website says "Jack Corbin" also collaborated with a well-known white nationalist figure's efforts to expose the personal information of activists affiliated with antifascist groups.
The indictment also charges McMahon with cyberstalking, willful interference with a candidate for elective office and threats to injure in interstate commerce.
"Although the First Amendment protects an individual's right to broadcast hateful views online, it does not give license to threats of violence or bodily harm," U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen, of the Western District of Virginia, said in a statement.