Miami Man Makes Court Appearance In Obama Threat Case
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami man the Secret Service said made threats against President Barack Obama appeared in federal court Friday.
Joaquin Serrapio, 20, appeared before federal Judge Patrick White Friday morning and entered a plea of not guilty to charges that he threatened the President.
Serrapio told the judge he wanted a jury trial and left court with his parents. Neither Serrapio or his parents spoke with reporters after the hearing.
According to a federal complaint filed against Joaquin Serrapio, 20, the Secret Service said it received a tip from the Coral Gables Police Department that a Facebook account Serrapio operated under the alias “Jay Valor” used the account to make public threats against the life of President Barack Obama.
Federal agents said they reviewed messages posted by “Jay Valor” on the Facebook page and found the following message posted on Tuesday, February 21:
“Who wants to help me assassinate Obummer while he’s at UM this week?”
Agents then said on Thursday, February 23, “Valor” posted a follow-up message that read:
“If anyones going to UM to see obama today, get ur phones out and record. Cause at any moment im gonna put a bullet through his head and u don’t wanna miss that! Youtube!”
Serrapio’s attorney said the postings were not meant to be threats.
“My client is a 20-year-old college student believing it would be taken as the joke it was intended to be,” said attorney Alan Ross. “He foolishly placed the notice on the Facebook wall never thinking anyone would take it seriously.”
The Secret Service went to Serrapio’s residence where he was living with his mother, and found an Apple iPad with the Facebook post open to the message about assassinating Obama at UM, according to the federal complaint. The report also stated Secret Service agents found two pellet guns in a bedroom of the house.
According to federal agents, Serrapio admitted that he maintained and posted the threats to the Facebook page. Serrapio also allowed the Secret Service to search his phone and federal agents found a text message that said:
“I know I can b killed by this communist administration and im challenging them. Lets see what these *expletive* got.”
Serrapio also responded in another text message when asked if the Secret Service would read his message by saying: “I hope :) I wanna kill at least two of them when they get here.”
Serrapio faces a charge of knowingly and willfully threatening to kill and to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States.
Ross said his client regrets what happened and apologizes to the President and the United States Secret Service.