US Report: Hate e-mailer sentenced to a year

Richard Machado - the first person ever federally prosecuted for sending hate mail in cyberspace - was sentenced on Monday to one year in prison.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

Machado, aged 21, was convicted in February after sending a racially derogatory e-mail message to approximately 60 Asian students at the University of California. In the e-mail, sent on September 20, 1996, from the school's computer facility, Machado accused Asians of being responsible for all crimes on campus, and further threatened that he would "make it my life carreer [sic] to find and kill everyone of you personally." The message was signed "Asian Hater."

According to prosecutors, Machado - who had been dismissed from the university due to poor academic performance - blamed the school's Asian students for his academic failure. At his trial, Machado himself reportedly testified that he hated some Asians, and that their presence at the school threatened his academic standing.

Nonetheless, Machado's attorneys argued that the e-mail was a prank, which Machado did not believe would be taken seriously. In his testimony, Machado said the message was sent as the result of boredom, not due to any intention to carry out the threat.

Prosecutors' first attempt to jail Machado ended in a mistrial last November, after jurors were unable to reach a verdict in the case. In the second trial, the US Attorney for the Central District of California offered new evidence, contending that Machado had previously acknowledged the threat to a school official, and had sent another threatening e-mail to the campus newspaper in 1995.

Machado's one-year sentence was the maximum that US District Judge Alicemarie Stotler could have handed down. Machado had already served that time, however, having been held without bond prior to his trial. He is now required to serve an additional year under supervised release, which will include psychiatric counselling and training in racial sensitivity and tolerance.

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