A Florida man charged with making racially motivated threats against a prospective Charlottesville City Council candidate pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal court.
Daniel McMahon, 31, of Brandon, Florida, was indicted last month by a grand jury in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia on four counts: willful interference with a candidate for elective office; bias-motivated interference with a candidate for elective office; threats to injure in interstate commerce; and cyberstalking.
McMahon is believed also to use the name “Jack Corbin” online, a moniker that has been used to target reporters and activists with threats via Twitter and Gab in the past.
On Wednesday, he appeared in Charlottesville’s federal courthouse, wearing a long, reddish-brown beard. The small courtroom was packed with people, none of whom appeared to be friends or family of McMahon.
The hearing lasted about 10 minutes, during which McMahon pleaded not guilty. A trial date was not set, but both the government and defense said a date in late December would be optimal.
According to the indictment, prior to Jan. 7, an African American resident of Charlottesville, identified by the initials D.G., was planning to announce he would seek a Democratic nomination for the City Council the following day.
McMahon used the internet and social media accounts to threaten physical harm, intimidate and interfere with D.G.’s campaigning, according to the indictment. Instead of announcing his candidacy on Jan. 8, D.G. announced he would not seek public office, federal prosecutors wrote.
Though D.G. is not further identified in the complaint, local activist Don Gathers sent a joint press release with fellow activist Michael Payne on Jan. 7 alerting media that they would announce their candidacy for two of the three available Democratic Party nominations the following day.
However, on Jan. 8, Gathers instead announced he would delay his campaign, citing “recurring issues” with his health that need to be addressed. He also resigned from the Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board later that night. He is not on the ballot for the November election.
Last month, a Florida judge cited McMahon’s apparent support for mass shooters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina, in denying him bond. McMahon had asked to be released on $50,000 bond.
The charges of cyberstalking and transmitting threats in interstate commerce each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The two charges arising from the threats against D.G. because of his race and because he was campaigning for office each carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison.