A Florida man who called himself the “antifa hunter” was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for carrying out a racist social media campaign against a Black political candidate and threatening to sexually assault the autistic daughter of an anti-racist activist, federal authorities said.
Daniel McMahon, 32, of Pasco County, was sentenced in federal district court in Virginia, where the candidate who McMahon admitted to threatening had announced his run for office in Charlottesville last year, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
In court documents filed this year, prosecutors said McMahon began threatening the candidate, who is not identified, after gathering personal information on people who he believed protested the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
Civil rights activist Heather Heyer was killed during the white nationalist rally. James Alex Fields was convicted of her murder in 2018 and pleaded guilty last year to 29 hate crime charges in connection with her death.
On Jan. 7, hours after the 60-year-old candidate announced his run for the Charlottesville City Council, McMahon, writing under the pseudonym “Jack Corbin,” took to the right-wing platform Gab, the documents state.
McMahon called the candidate the n-word and a terrorist, described him as the “the most dangerous violent antifa in the USA” and said he feared the candidate would “pull a Bill Cosby on multiple white women," according to court records.
Antifa is a militant leftist coalition of anti-fascists that has been the subject of viral, false speculation and is a favorite target of President Donald Trump, who has threatened to designate it a terrorist organization.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and extremist groups, has said that its members have been involved in skirmishes and property crimes, "but the threat of lethal violence pales in comparison to that posed by far-right extremists."
McMahon issued a “formal warning” to the candidate, telling him he needed to immediately drop out of the race, the court documents state. Otherwise, McMahon said, he would use a “diversity of tactics” to end his political aspirations.
The documents note that “diversity of tactics” is used by white supremacists as a euphemism for violence.
The candidate withdrew from the race two days later — a move that McMahon greeted by posting a message that said “Hail Victory” on Gab, the documents say.
After McMahon was arrested last year, an anti-racist activist from North Carolina told federal investigators that McMahon had recently threatened her and her daughter over Facebook while trying to obtain information about other protesters, according to the documents.
According to messages included in the documents, McMahon said he was “pretty famous” for identifying hundreds of members of antifa. “God put me on this earth to hunt and stop antifa,” McMahon said, according to the documents, adding: “I’m the antifa hunter.”
If the group attacks you, he said in one message, “you must kill them in self defense with the Stand Your Ground law.”
In a series of messages that spanned nearly two weeks, he told the activist, who is not identified, that he knew how to “make” her “talk” and asked if her daughter, who is a minor, was a virgin, according to the documents.
“I’ll be very gentle with her,” he said, before using more explicit language.
“What kind of a monster says those things?” the activist said at one point.
“Oh I did strike a nerve?” he said, according to the documents. “Maybe you should have put your daughter before your Antifa terrorism?”
A lawyer for McMahon did not respond to a request for comment Monday. In a court hearing last year, McMahon’s father, Paul, said a friend of his son’s had been assaulted in Charlottesville and his son had tried to alert authorities to people who “wore black” to hide from law enforcement. He added that an anti-fascist group in Philadelphia had “terrorized” their family.
Paul McMahon said his son wasn't dangerous and denied that he was racist, but he said his son could be “uncivil” when he drank. The father added that his son used monikers online to “protect himself when he was doing a deep dive to try and find the people that were trying to obscure their identifies from law enforcement.”
Daniel McMahon pled guilty to one count of bias-motivated intimidation and one count of cyberstalking. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison.