What to Know
- A New York City man could face years in prison after being arrested for allegedly threatening politicians and broadcasters, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
- Rickey Johnson, also known “Nigel Dawn Defarren,” was arrested Thursday night based on a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court charging Johnson with with making threatening interstate communications and threatening United States officials. Attorney information was not immediately known.
- According to prosecutors, Johnson, 47, allegedly posted public videos on Instagram in which he threatened to kill a United States Senator, a member of the United States House of Representatives, other current and former elected officials, and several cable news broadcasters. He also sent private messages.
A New York City man could face years in prison after being arrested for allegedly threatening politicians and conservative broadcasters, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
Rickey Johnson, also known “Nigel Dawn Defarren,” was arrested Thursday night based on a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court charging Johnson with with making threatening interstate communications, which carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, and threatening United States officials, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment. Attorney information for Johnson was not immediately known.
According to prosecutors, Johnson, 47, allegedly posted public videos on Instagram in which he threatened to kill a U.S. Senator, a member of the House of Representatives, other current and former elected officials, along with several cable news personalities.
The complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court alleges that on Jan. 30, Johnson sent a private message to a cable news broadcaster that threatened, “you will all be held accountable . . . you will be killed.” His message threatened by name two additional broadcasters.
Additionally, on Feb. 3, Johnson posted public messages in which he stated that he intended to “kill” two of the same broadcasters. A day later, he allegedly posted public messages threatening, among others, a United States senator, a member of the United States House of Representatives, a former speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and a governor.
According to the complaint, Johnson declared that the senator was “dead” and would be “executed,” that he was “going to kill” the Representative, and that the governor “will be executed” and “will be killed.” In a public post directed principally at the former speaker, Johnson allegedly stated: “I am going to kill you. I’m gonna kill all of you.”
According to a senior law enforcement official, some of those threatened by Johnson include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — a moderate Democrat who will work with Republicans on certain issues. There is no evidence of any specific plot or weapons, the senior law enforcement official said, but the threats made were serious enough to warrant charges.
“Rickey Johnson allegedly threatened to kill several cable news broadcasters and current and former U.S. Senators and members of the House in rage-fueled posts on Instagram and in chilling private messages," U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said in a statement. "Among the many great freedoms Americans enjoy is the right to engage in political discourse, and disagreements are natural and healthy; but when invective metastasizes into threats of harm or even death, law enforcement will act swiftly to bring the person responsible to justice.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea -- whose department's Intelligence Bureau, Leads Investigation Unit, and 23rd Precinct Field Intelligence Team, assisted in the investigation -- shared similar sentiments.
“Rickey Johnson, as alleged in this federal complaint, took aim at the foundations of our shared democracy and way of life, threatening not only elected United States officials but several working journalists," Shea said.
Last month, another man in New York was arrested by federal authorities after he allegedly threatened multiple elected officials online. The man, identified as Brendan Hunt, was arrested in Queens following a raid by the FBI.