Texas man sentenced to 2 years in prison for threatening Georgia election workers

In this Jan. 5, 2021 file photo, Georgia election workers process absentee ballots for the Senate runoff election in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)

A Texas man who was the first arrest by a Justice Department task force that investigates threats to election workers has been sentenced to two years in prison over posts made following the 2020 election, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Chad Christopher Stark, 55, was accused of posting threatening messages on Craigslist about killing government officials in Georgia. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of communicating interstate threats.

Prosecutors say Stark, who is from suburban Austin, urged Georgia residents on social media to “militia up” and called for shooting several unnamed officials and judges. The messages were posted on Jan. 5, 2021, the day before Congress was set to ratify the Electoral College’s votes.

“Christopher Stark threatened the lives of multiple election workers in an attempt to prevent them from doing their job,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s resolute commitment to securing American elections from any attempts to undermine their integrity.”

“Threats of violence against those who administer our elections are dangerous for people’s personal safety, and they are dangerous for our democracy,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This sentence should serve as [a] warning — illegal threats against the public servants who make our democracy work will be met with the full force of the Justice Department.”

A federal public defender for Stark did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Stark’s arrest was the first by the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force, which was launched in 2021 amid a rising tide of violent threats against people who count and secure the vote. The threats followed former President Donald Trump making repeated unproven claims that election fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election.

WABE News contributed to this report.