A Texas man was arrested today in Travis County, Texas, for allegedly sending threatening election-related communications to government officials on Jan. 5, 2021.
Chad Stark, 54, of Leander, was arrested this morning in a law enforcement operation carried out by the FBI. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon at the federal courthouse in Austin, Texas.
This is the first criminal case brought by the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. Announced by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and launched by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco in late June 2021, the task force is leading the department’s efforts to address threats of violence against election workers, and to ensure that all election workers — whether elected, appointed or volunteer — are able to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation. The task force engages with the election community and state and local law enforcement to assess allegations and reports of threats against election workers, and investigates and prosecutes these matters where appropriate, in partnership with FBI field offices and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country as warranted.
“The Justice Department has a responsibility not only to protect the right to vote, but also to protect those who administer our voting systems from violence and illegal threats of violence,” said Attorney General Garland. “The department’s Election Threats Task Force, working with partners across the country, will hold accountable those who violate federal law by using violence or threatening violence to target election workers fulfilling their public duties.”
“Today’s arrest confirms the FBI’s commitment in our pursuit of justice against those who choose to threaten violence against anyone participating in our elections,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Election workers striving to protect our right to a fair and democratic process deserve nothing less than the utmost safety and assurance they can accomplish their roles without interference. The FBI will continue to focus on our mission of protecting these individuals and the important work they do, as well as every American’s right to vote.”
“The intimidation of those in charge of carrying out free and fair elections in this country is against the law and cannot go unchecked,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine for the Northern District of Georgia. “When someone threatens an election official working at any level of the voting process – whether that be an elected office holder or a volunteer poll worker – our democracy is put in jeopardy. We are grateful to all of those who endeavor to secure our elections and our democracy. We must protect them all.”According to the indictment, on Jan. 5, 2021, Stark allegedly posted a message to Craigslist entitled, “Georgia Patriots it’s time to kill [Official A] the Chinese agent – $10,000.” The message stated:
Organized by Deputy Attorney General Monaco, the Election Threats Task Force is led by the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and includes several other entities within the Department of Justice, including the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division, the Civil Rights Division, the National Security Division and the FBI, as well as key interagency partners, such as the Department of Homeland Security. For more information regarding the Justice Department’s efforts to combat threats against election workers, read the Deputy Attorney General’s memo.
To report suspected threats or violent acts, contact your local FBI office and request to speak with the Election Crimes Coordinator. Contact information for every FBI field office may be found at https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/. You may also contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or file an online complaint at tips.fbi.gov. Complaints submitted will be reviewed by the task force and referred for investigation or response accordingly. If someone is in imminent danger or risk of harm, contact 911 or your local police immediately.
Stark is charged with one count of communicating interstate threats. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI’s Atlanta Field Office is investigating the case.
Deputy Director Sean F. Mulryne of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Alan Gray of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.