The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Guilty Plea for Anti-Semitic Death Threats + Odd Link to Transgender YouTuber


The press release was released yesterday by the Justice Department:

On May 5, William Alexander, 50, of Anchorage, Alaska, entered a guilty plea … to an indictment charging them with one count of making threatening interstate communications and one count of intentionally obstructing and attempting to obstruct persons in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs through the threatened use of force.

According to the plea agreement,

The defendant left a voicemail [with the synagogue] stating: "I'm coming for you kikes. You're all gonna pay. Bye bye kikes. Bye bye kikes. I'm gonna kill you all."

Lovely. The maximum sentence authorized under these statutes is apparently six years in prison (five years on the threats charge and one year on the obstruction of free exercise charge) plus up to eight years of probation. But the actual sentence will likely turn on how the Sentencing Guidelines apply, and in particular on the defendant's criminal history; and the parties recommend that the probation be for three years.

I couldn't find many details on the backstory behind the crime, but I noticed that the defendant agreed, as part of his plea deal, to "[r]efrain from associating with, communicating with, watching, searching for, or 'following' on YouTube or any other social media, the media personality known as 'Furry Potato'" during his probation. Furry Potato appears to be a 45-year-old transgender YouTube figure and "First Amendment auditor" named Zhoie Perez.

Among other things, Perez had sued a local trade school for refusing to "address Perez as she, or by other female indicators"; sued a local city government for allegedly mistreating her while she was acting as "a First Amendment auditor and journalist documenting the transgender experience, including … the treatment and mistreatment of transgender people by videotaping and broadcasting her experiences as a transgender woman"; and had been shot by a security guard outside an L.A. synagogue seven months before Alexander's threats, while also apparently engaging in "First Amendment auditing," and in turn sued, also alleging (among other things) discrimination by the security guard based on transgender status (according to a decision by a judge in that case, which remains pending).

The theory of the probation condition is presumably that Perez was somehow a bad influence on Alexander, but I lack further details on that (nor do I know whether the threatened synagogue was the one outside which Perez had been shot).