Monday, October 26, 2009
SAN DIEGO A La Mesa man who posted racially charged comments on Yahoo about killing Barack Obama during last year's presidential campaign was sentenced today to time served and ordered to spend 60 days in a halfway house.
Walter Bagdasarian, who was convicted July 28 of making threats against a major candidate for president, was also ordered to pay a $500 fine.
U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff said the defendant will be on supervised release for the next two years.
In finding the 48-year-old defendant guilty in July, Huff said his Internet postings last Oct. 22 were intended as a threat when they were written.
Others who were reading Bagdasarian's writings told him that law enforcement was monitoring the Web site, and one reader even told him that he was going to report him, the judge said.
The writings were subsequently reported to the Secret Service, which tracked them to Bagdasarian's home computer, which was in his wife's name.
Bagdasarian used the computer to post threatening messages on a Yahoo Finance message board, including one that read, "He will have a 50 cal in the head soon," and 20 minutes later posted a message that read "Shoot the n----- ," said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Cole.
The defendant also sent e-mail messages containing a link to a YouTube video depicting a junk vehicle exploding after being hit by a round from a firearm, the prosecutor said.
During a search of the defendant's home, agents found six weapons, including a .50-caliber rifle, Cole said.
Defense attorney Ezekiel Cortez argued unsuccessfully that Bagdasarian was drunk when he posted the comments in a political discussion chat room. While Bagdasarian's comments were "ugly," he did not have a specific intent to carry out the threat, Cortez said.