Texas man sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for posting Covid-19 hoax on social media

Evidence confirmed Christopher Charles Perez, 40, posted two threatening messages on Facebook in April 2020, falsely claiming he paid somebody contaminated with Covid-19 to “lick items at grocery stores in the San Antonio area to scare people away” from the companies, the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas stated in a news release Monday.

Perez was discovered responsible of two counts for violating a federal regulation that criminalizes false info and hoaxes associated to organic weapons, prosecutors stated.

The Southwest Texas Fusion Center (SWTFC) acquired an internet tip on April 5, 2020, of a screenshot of the publish, and the FBI in San Antonio investigated the matter, in accordance to the information launch.

The threat was false. Perez did not pay someone to intentionally spread coronavirus at grocery stores, according to investigators and Perez’s own admissions,” prosecutors stated in the information launch.

Perez’s lawyer didn’t instantly reply to CNN’s request for remark.

Perez’s fabricated social media posts got here at a time when Covid-19 had simply begun broadly spreading in the US — shutting down many non-essential companies and upending life throughout the nation and across the globe.

In addition to the 15-month prison sentence, Perez should additionally pay a $1,000 high-quality, prosecutors stated.

“Trying to scare people with the threat of spreading dangerous diseases is no joking matter,” US Attorney Ashley C. Hoff stated in the information launch.

The US Department of Justice created the Covid-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force final May to fight pandemic-related fraud.

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