Everett, Wash. (AP) – A suburban Seattle man was sentenced Friday to two years in federal prison for threatening to shoot black customers at grocery stores in Buffalo, New York, and at businesses in other states.
The Daily Herald reported that Joey George, of Linwood, pleaded guilty in November to the hate crime of making interstate threats and interfering with a federally protected activity.
As part of a plea agreement, George admitted that he made threats to shoot black customers at grocery stores in Buffalo, restaurants in California and Connecticut, and a marijuana dispensary in Maryland.
According to the plea agreement, George began making the calls in July — asking employees of a store to “take him seriously” because he was “preparing to shoot all black customers.” One store closed.
Prosecutors said George did not call the same store but mentioned it in the threat.
Prosecutors said his calls to businesses in other states also included threats to black people and in one case to Hispanic people.
“What he did in this case is reprehensible,” Assistant US Attorney Thomas Woods said in sentencing Friday.
George’s public defender, Mohammed Hamoudi, said his client has autism and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after a traumatic, abusive childhood that caused him to disconnect from reality.
Hamoudi said that at the federal detention center in Seatac, George is seeing a psychologist.
George said in court on Friday that he regretted his actions.
“What I did was wrong, and there is no excuse,” he said. “And I feel bad for the people I was scared of.”
US District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez sentenced George to two years in prison, in the middle of the sentencing guidelines. He called George’s actions “nothing more than terrorizing the victims on the other end of those calls”.
Martinez also said the case shows the need for more mental health care.
The judge said, “The fact that intellectually disabled people with serious mental health challenges end up in courtrooms and courts, where they could be cared for and perhaps helped, is one of the most pressing concerns in today’s society.” One of the tough things.”
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