A Texas man has pleaded guilty to threatening Georgia officials following the 2020 election, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.
Chad Stark, 55, of Leander, Texas, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of communicating interstate threats after he was accused of posting threatening messages on Craigslist about killing government officials in Georgia. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Prosecutors did not name the officials who were threatened in federal court documents.
Stark's arrest was the first by the Justice Department's new Election Threats Task Force amid a rising tide of violent threats against people who count and secure the vote. The threats come after Former President Donald Trump made repeated unproven claims that election fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election, leading some supporters to target election officials and workers.
“All across this country our fellow citizens and neighbors, including many retirees, choose to serve as elections officials, poll workers, and in other capacities to help ensure free and fair elections in the United States,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a Friday statement. “They serve out of a patriotic duty and appreciation for our nation and deserve to do so without fear of retaliation or threats of violence.”
The public defense attorney listed for Stark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Associated Press writer Paul Weber in Austin contributed to this report.
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Christine Fernando, The Associated Press