Man who threatened to kill popular Fox hosts and Sen Joe Manchin is convicted, awaiting sentencing

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A New York man who threatened to kill Democrat Senator Joe Manchin and two popular Fox News hosts was convicted following a one-week trial and could face up to twenty years in prison for his crimes.

On Friday, 48-year-old Rickey Johnson was convicted of two counts of transmitting threatening interstate communications and one count of threatening a federal official. He was acquitted of one count of threatening a federal official in the trial by jury.

Johnson issued his threats through private messages as well as public social media including a January 30, 2021, direct message to Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld saying “you will be killed.” He also threatened to kill Fox News host Laura Ingraham with his “bare hands” and said that the West Virginia Democrat would be “executed.”

According to a Justice Department press release: “Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that RICKEY JOHNSON was convicted yesterday of threatening a federal official and making interstate threats, following a one-week jury trial before the Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan. JOHNSON threatened to kill United States Senator Joe Manchin and Fox News television hosts Greg Gutfeld and Laura Ingraham in direct messages and publicly posted videos on Instagram.”

“On February 3, 2021, JOHNSON posted public videos in which he threatened to kill Senator Manchin, Mr. Gutfeld, and Ms. Ingraham. Among other things, JOHNSON declared that Senator Manchin was “dead” and would be “executed”; told Mr. Gutfeld that he was “going to take [his] life”; and said that he would “kill” Ms. Ingraham with his “bare hands,” the statement reads.

“Rather than express his political differences constructively, Rickey Johnson escalated his discord by instilling fear. Johnson’s attempts to scare and stifle a U.S. Senator and two Fox News hosts were federal crimes for which he has now been convicted by a New York jury,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, according to the DOJ.

In addition to his private messages to the three, Johnson who used the name “Nigel Dawn Defarren” posted videos on Instagram conveying the threats. He was arrested in February 2021.

“You all kill police officers,” Johnson railed against unnamed cable news broadcasters in a December live Instagram post, said the feds, who described his comments as “rage fueled,” the New York Post reported after the arrest. “Donald Trump supporters kill police officers … You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m gonna kill you.”

According to the criminal complaint which also mentions additional unnamed broadcasters and politicians, other examples of threats made by Johnson included:

“You’re dead, I’m gonna kill you. . . . I am going to take your life, I’m going to tell you before I do it like I am doing right now, but I’m going to look you in your f**king eye and I’m gonna take your f**kin’ life, and everyone that knows I took your life is gonna know why,” to Broadcaster-2.

“I want this white woman dead. I want” and “I am going to personally kill you. . . . I am going to kill you,” to Broadcaster-4.

“I am going to kill all of you f**king terrorists. Every f**king one of you. I’m going to kill you. . . . What I recommend you all do, Miss [Broadcaster-4] and [Former Speaker-1], is get your f**king coin together and kill me, because I’m telling you, I’m coming to kill all of you.”


Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Kaplan on May 25, 2022.


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