Pai Hails Guilty Plea Over Threats to His Family

FCC chair Ajit Pai thanked law enforcement Tuesday (Sept. 4) for its work in securing a guilty plea from a man who threatened his family.

“I would like to thank the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, local law enforcement, and FCC security officials for their hard work protecting my family and me," Pai said in a statement. "I am deeply grateful for all they have done to keep us safe.”

Related: Pai Pulls out of NRECA Speech Over Threats

Saying he was angry over the rollback of net neutrality rules, Markara Man plead guilty Aug. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to the chairman's office.

Man, 33, of Norwalk, Calif., allegedly sent three emails to Pai Dec. 19 and 20, 2017, the first claiming a child had committed suicide because of the repeal, the second threatening to kill Pai's family members, and the third including an image of Pai with a framed photo of his family.

Federal agents tracked the emails and confronted Man, who admitting to writing the emails because he wanted to "scare" Pai.

Related: Pai Calls Out Protestors at His Home

The FCC voted on Dec. 14, 2017, to eliminate the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization following a contentious run-up to the vote in which Pai was savaged and harassed and threatened by a fringe element in the net neutrality activist community.

The FCC chairman was the subject of racist comments, death threats and other invective from online trolls, and was even accused of choking, strangling and killing the open internet by more mainstream activist groups and passionate Hill Democrats, some of whom also branded Pai and fellow Republicans' actions "un-American."

There were also protests outside Pai's house, including ones targeting his children, during the run-up to the Dec. 14 vote, where a bomb threat briefly cleared the FCC meeting room.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.