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Man arrested on charges of threatening to kill FCC chairman's family

A 33-year-old California man who told the FBI he was upset about the repeal of net neutrality regulations has been arrested on charges of threatening to kill the family of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to court documents cited by the Justice Department, 33-year-old Markara Man of Norwalk, Calif., allegedly sent three emails to Pai in December 2017. The first email accused the FCC chairman of being responsible for a child who allegedly committed suicide over net neutrality repeal. The next email listed three locations near Washington, D.C., and threatened to kill Pai's family members. And the third email, the DOJ says, simply showed an impact of Pai and a framed photo of him with his family. 

When the FBI traced the emails and confronted him in May 2018, Man admitted he made the threats because he was "angry" about net neutrality repeal and wanted to "scare" the FCC chairman, the DOJ said. 

Man has been charged with threatening to murder a U.S. official's immediate family member with the intent to intimidate or interfere with the official's official duties. If he is convicted, the California man faces up to 10 years behind bars. The case against Man is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander P. Berrang. 

Net neutrality regulations were instilled under 2015 Obama-era rules, in an attempt to sure that Internet service providers — think AT&T or Comcast — treat all websites and online content equally. The FCC voted to overturn those regulations in December 2017, after months of controversy around the issue. The vote to repeal the regulations was 3-2 in favor of overturning net neutrality, falling along party lines.

The alleged threats against Pai's family come amid a broader debate about civility in politics. 

Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, called on supporters to harass members of the Trump Cabinet in public. She told news outlets she canceled two events this weekend, facing threats herself.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was expected to receive temporary Secret Service protection at her home, after she was told to leave a small restaurant in Lexington, Virginia last week. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.