An on-line threat in April 2020 that stated any individual used to be paid to spread COVID-19 at Texas grocery stores has sent a San Antonio man to federal penal complex for 15 months and payment him a $1,000 sexy.

Christopher Charles Perez, 40, in June used to be convicted by a federal jury for the Texas Western District in San Antonio and used to be currently sentenced.

According to court docket facts, the jury found Perez, aka Christopher Robbins, responsible of two counts of 18 U.S.C. § 1038, which criminalizes fallacious data and hoaxes connected to biological weapons.

As “Christop[her Robbins” Perez posted the threat on facebook. It read: “PSA!! Yo it GROCERY STOREM ERCADO!! My homeboy’s cousin has covid-19 and has licked everything for the past 2 days cause we paid him too { 4 EMOTICONS] astronomical distinction is we informed him now not to be these ing idiots who document and publish on-line, YOU’’VE  BEEN WARNED!! GROCERY STORE on nogalitos subsequent:)”

The publish used to be reported to the FBI by means of an on-line tip early on April 5, 2020. An agent with training in Weapons of Mass Destruction used to be assigned to study. Perez had already eradicated the publish, but it used to be recovered for the FBI by the San Antonio Fusion Center. A news article is moreover linked to the merchandise. As a replacement, Perez left this observation: “Lol. I did strive and warn yall but my homegirl changed my mind..Mercado already is, nogalitos field subsequent.”

When interviewed by the FBI, Perez admitted he used to be “Christopher Robbins” and made the threatening publish. He stated he used to be attempting to fear folk away from procuring throughout the pandemic. Perez used to be now not working thanks to the COVID lock-downs.

The FBI requested Perez if he used to be happy that his publish led to even one greenery retailer to end, He stated he used to be “50/50” on that. His first publish used to be up for 16 minutes earlier than being taken down. The second used to be up for 23 hours.

Meals market executives stated no stores closed, in phase on narrative of they didn’t wish to initiate a fear and there used to be no confirmation of the threat.

Proof offered in the course of trial revealed that Perez posted two threatening messages on Fb by which he claimed to occupy paid any individual who used to be contaminated with COVID-19 to lick items at grocery stores in the San Antonio home to fear folk away from visiting the stores.

The threat used to be fallacious. Perez didn’t pay any individual to deliberately spread coronavirus at grocery stores, in accordance with investigators and Perez’s have admissions.

“Attempting to fear folk with the specter of spreading unhealthy ailments isn’t any joking topic,” stated U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “This office takes seriously threats to hurt the neighborhood and will prosecute them to the rotund extent of the legislation.”

“Of us that will perhaps perhaps threaten to consume COVID-19 as a weapon in opposition to others will seemingly be held responsible for their actions, even supposing the threat used to be a hoax,” stated FBI San Antonio Division Special Agent in Designate Christopher Combs. “Perez’s actions had been knowingly designed to spread scare and fear and this day’s sentencing illustrates the seriousness of this crime. The FBI would interact to thank our legislation enforcement partners for their support in this case.”

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Process Drive, in conjunction with Weapons of Mass Destruction personnel, performed this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys William R. Harris, Kelly Stephenson, and Mark Roomberg prosecuted the case.

The Division of Justice has established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Process Drive to marshal the resources of the Division of Justice in partnership with agencies all over authorities to toughen efforts to fight and pause pandemic-connected fraud.

The Process Drive bolsters efforts to study and prosecute the most culpable domestic and global legal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief packages to pause fraud by, amongst a form of techniques, augmenting and incorporating fresh coordination mechanisms, figuring out resources and tactics to divulge counterfeit actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing data and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more data on the Division’s response to the pandemic, please streak to https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anybody with data about allegations of tried fraud intelligent COVID-19 can document it by calling the Division of Justice’s National Center for Exertion Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or by means of the NCDF Web Criticism Make at: https://www.justice.gov/distress-fraud/ncdf-distress-complaint-salvage.

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