A Virginia man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to cyberstalking after sending dozens of harassing and threatening messages to the mayor of Tulsa, Okla., and his family, in what federal prosecutors said was an attempt to prevent President Trump from holding a campaign rally there in June.
Officials said the man, Adam Maxwell Donn, 40, of Norfolk, made calls and sent emails to Mayor George T. Bynum and his family implying that harm would come to them if the June 20 event were not canceled, officials said.
“You are putting everyone in Tulsa at risk so Im gonna put your family at risk,” Mr. Donn wrote in one email, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa. “Maybe show up to meet at your next bible study??” Mr. Donn wrote, according to the complaint.
The rally took place inside a 19,000-seat indoor arena and was attended by a mostly maskless crowd.
Mr. Donn also threatened to publicize the family’s home address and cellphone numbers of the mayor, his wife and two children; and to disclose passwords they used, according to the complaint. Mr. Donn, who entered his plea via video conference from Virginia, will face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on Jan. 25. His lawyer, Robert Lee Wyatt IV, declined to comment on Wednesday night.
According to prosecutors, Mr. Donn began sending messages to Mr. Bynum on June 11. By June 18, the police in Tulsa had been contacted. Law enforcement officials identified Mr. Donn as the suspect in July by tracing the I.P. address, email addresses and phone numbers linked to the messages, according to the complaint.
Many of the messages Mr. Donn sent were vulgar and menacing, according to the complaint. In many, he said he hoped members of the Bynum family would get infected with the coronavirus.
R. Trent Shores, the United States attorney in the Northern District of Oklahoma, said in an interview that it was the totality of Mr. Donn’s messages and threats, and the impact they had on the Bynum family, that led law enforcement officials to charge Mr. Donn. “There wasn’t any one particular thing that this individual said that suddenly made it a federal criminal violation,” Mr. Shores said.
“The family was actually moved to a different location because they so feared for their safety that Mr. Donn was going to show up and do something,” he said.
Asked if he anticipated needing to prosecute more people for threatening public officials, Mr. Shores said, “I hope not. I hope that we are able to rediscover our ability to communicate and disagree without being disagreeable.”
Mr. Donn’s plea is the latest in a recent string of cases in which people have been accused of threatening lawmakers.
On Wednesday, law enforcement officials said a man in Maryland was arrested on charges that he had threatened to kidnap and kill Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris.
Last week, the police in Wichita, Kan., arrested a woman they said had threatened to kill the mayor of that city. The woman sent text messages to a third party asking for the mayor’s address, and mentioned her own opposition to wearing masks and to other coronavirus mitigation policies, officials said. The messages also contained a graphic execution plan, officials said.
About two weeks ago, six men were charged with planning to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat who has become a focal point of anti-government views and anger over coronavirus control measures.