Feds: Man Threatened Miami Judge After She Ruled Against Sanctuary City Ban

In a September 2021 Fox News segment, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody responds to a ruling on the state's sanctuary city law.
In a September 2021 Fox News segment, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody responds to a ruling on the state's sanctuary city law. Screenshot of Fox News interview via YouTube
A comment left on a Fox News YouTube channel — calling a Miami judge a "dead commie traitor" — has landed a West Virginia man in federal court on a felony charge of making an interstate threat.

Prosecutors claim Lloyd Kent Thomas Jr. used the online alias "American patriot" to make violent threats against a South Florida federal judge after she handed down a politically charged ruling against Governor Ron DeSantis in September 2021.

"[The judge] is a dead commie traitor. All democrat terrorists are dead. You will all be shot dead on sight," the comment reads. "All democrat commies will bleed out in every American town."

The comment caught the attention of the U.S. Marshals Service and triggered an investigation, which led the FBI to track down Thomas at his home in Williamstown, West Virginia.

On December 20, a grand injury indictment was filed against Thomas on a count of making an interstate threat to inflict bodily harm, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The FBI affidavit redacts the name of the judge whom Thomas allegedly threatened.

However, the ruling date, underlying case description, and the YouTube video details listed in Thomas' file make it clear that the vitriolic comment was directed at U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom after she handed down a decision against Governor Ron DeSantis in a case over a Florida immigration law.

In the September 21, 2021 ruling, Bloom blocked two sections of SB 168: Federal Immigration Enforcement, a controversial 2019 state law prohibiting sanctuary cities in Florida. She found the provisions were passed by the Republican-led legislature with discriminatory intent and were unconstitutional.

One of the sections required local police to "use best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law." The other prohibited Florida cities from adopting "sanctuary policies" that could impede law enforcement from complying with federal immigration detainers and other enforcement measures. (The decision is on appeal in the 11th Circuit.)

The case was brought by the City of South Miami alongside immigrant-rights advocates who alleged that SB 168 was preempted by federal immigration law and would subject "Black and brown Floridians who may be perceived as 'foreign'" to racial profiling. 

Bloom held a six-day bench trial on the matter in January 2021.

Aware of the volatile political atmosphere surrounding the issue of sanctuary cities, the U.S. Marshals Service ramped up protective measures for the judge when the ruling came out. The Miami-Dade Police Department also increased its patrols around the judge's residence, according to court documents.

In an interview on Fox News shortly after the ruling, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody criticized the judge, calling her decision "disgusting," accusing her of judicial activism, and saying the decision was "one of the most nonsensical rulings" she had seen in her legal career.

Thousands of reactions poured into the comment section when Fox News posted the interview three days after the ruling.

While the comments included several hateful messages, the U.S. Marshals Service keyed in on Thomas' alleged online outburst because of its explicitly threatening tone, according to the FBI affidavit. Other users' comments alarmed the Marshals as well, including one which released the Miami judge's home address, according to the affidavit.

Federal prosecutors secured subpoenas for the email and internet-protocol address associated with "the dead commie" comment, allowing the FBI to locate Thomas' residence in Williamstown, West Virginia, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states that when law enforcement approached Thomas in his home on March 2 — with a printed copy of the threat in hand — he conceded, "Yes sir, I said it."

A warrant was issued for Thomas in the Southern District of Florida last month, and he was arrested on December 7, court records show. 
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Izzy Kapnick is the news editor at Miami New Times. He has worked as a legal news reporter in South Florida since 2008, covering environmental law, white-collar crime, and the healthcare industry.
Contact: Izzy Kapnick

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