update deskU.S. News

Michigan man sentenced to 366 days for threats to kill Jews

“Today and every day, we will take swift action to detect and disrupt hate crimes,” said Mark Totten, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan.

Illustrative photo of a judge and gavel. Credit: Zolnierek/Shutterstock.
Illustrative photo of a judge and gavel. Credit: Zolnierek/Shutterstock.

Sean Pietila, 20, of Pickford, Mich., was sentenced to 12 months and a day in federal prison for making threats on the first two days of June 2023 to kill Jews.

The FBI found evidence that Pietila chose a specific day in March 2024 upon which to attack a synagogue in East Lansing, Mich., and “made a wish list of firearms and other weapons,” per a U.S. Justice Department release.

“Today and every day, we will take swift action to detect and disrupt hate crimes,” stated Mark Totten, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan. “No Michigander should live in fear because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or any other protected status.”

Pietila pleaded guilty in November “to sending numerous messages containing threats to kill others to an Instagram user located outside of Michigan,” per the U.S. attorney’s office. “Those messages, which included references to Adolf Hitler and antisemitic language, talked of Pietila’s desire and plans to engage in a mass shooting in a manner similar to a specific past mass shooter.”

Robert Jonker, a U.S. District judge, sentenced Pietila to serve 366 days in prison and three subsequent years of supervised release and to pay $10,648 in restitution.

“There is absolutely no tolerance for threats of violence and intimidation in the state of Michigan and in our society. The FBI will vigorously pursue those who commit these actions,” stated Cheyvoryea Gibson, special agent in charge of the FBI in Michigan.

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