A Maryland man was sentenced on Jan. 11 to two years in prison, along with three years of supervised release, for making death threats and other calls for violence against the Human Rights Campaign.
According to the evidence presented by the government at the sentencing hearing, Adam Michael Nettina, 34, of West Friendship, also sent threatening messages to Maryland and Virginia state delegates due to their support of transgender people.
“This defendant targeted and threatened members of the LGBTQI+ community and their allies, instilling fear and promoting violence toward a heavily targeted community,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to combating threats against public officials and protected communities. We will work tirelessly to expunge the growing threat posed by bias-motivated acts of violence directed at the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.”
“You have the right to your own opinions, but you don’t have the right to threaten the lives of those who disagree with you. As this case demonstrates, free speech does not include violent threats against others,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland. “We’ll continue prosecuting these threats to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Threats of violence made against people and organizations to instill fear will not be tolerated,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work diligently to ensure the civil rights of all Americans are protected.”
According to court documents, on the evening of March 28, 2023, the victim organization received a threatening voicemail from a phone number, which investigators identified as belonging to Nettina.
The message referenced the March 27, 2023, mass shooting at a school in Nashville, Tenn., involving multiple shooting fatalities, where police identified the perpetrator as a trans woman. During the call, numerous threats were made, including, “… we’ll cut your throats. We’ll put a bullet in your head … You’re going to kill us? We’re going to kill you 10 times more in full.”
Nettina admitted that he left this voicemail for the purpose of issuing a threat and with the knowledge that the voicemail would be viewed as a threat. Further, Nettina intentionally selected the advocacy organization as a target of his message because of the actual and perceived gender, gender identity and sexual orientation of the people who work at and are assisted by the organization.
As detailed in his plea agreement, on March 31, 2022, a Maryland state delegate posted a message of support on social media in honor of Trans Day of Visibility. Nettina responded on social media later that same day, which stated, among other things, that he had “begun the formal process of getting you excommunicated …” from the Catholic Church. On Nov. 8, 2022, the delegate was reelected. Nettina sent the delegate another message on social media, stating: “… Baby killing terrorist. Enjoy hell … You’re going sooner than you think.”
Finally, as outlined in the court documents, on Oct. 13, 2022, an online news story was published about an interview a Virginia state delegate gave in which she advocated for the prevention of abuse towards trans children.
Two days later, on Oct. 15, 2022, Nettina sent an email to the delegate’s press email account, stating: “The delegate is a terrorist. You are a terrorist. You deserve to be shot and hung in the streets. You want to come after people? Let’s go bitch.” Nettina also sent a similar message to another email address of the delegate two minutes later.
Nettina intentionally selected the delegate and her campaign staff as the recipient of his email because of the actual and perceived gender, gender identity and sexual orientation of the people and constituents for whom the delegate had expressed support.
The FBI’s Baltimore Field Office investigated the case.
Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.