College student pleads not guilty in Facebook threats to President Obama
March 11, 2012 12:47pm PST
A Miami Dade College student accused of threatening to kill President Barack Obama on Facebook pleaded not guilty Friday morning in federal court.
Joaquin Amador Serrapio Jr., 20, was charged and pleaded not guilty before federal magistrate Patrick A. White, who set his cash bond at $20,000, in addition to a $50,000 personal surety bond that his parents signed, according to court records. Serrapio made no comments in court, but he was apologetic in an interview with The Miami Herald last week.
Serrapio was arrested at his home on Feb. 24 by the Secret Service after authorities say he posted threats on Facebook against Obama, who two days later spoke at the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center in Coral Gables
Federal agents took Serrapio from his home in the 200 block of Southwest 136th Place in West Miami-Dade, the complaint said. According to the criminal complaint, officials found an Apple iPad that showed the postings and an Airsoft pellet gun.
Alan Ross, Serrapio’s attorney, said Serrapio had no intention of hurting the president and “wants to apologize.”
“It was just a joke. I truly regret it,” Serrapio said in a phone interview earlier this month. “I’ll learn from it. I do regret it, but it was just all so unnecessary. I’m not going to see this as a stumbling block, but as a stepping stone. I will never touch Facebook again, never.”
According to the criminal compliant, Serrapio posted on Facebook under the alias “Jay Valor.” “Who wants to help me assassinate Obummer while hes at UM this week?”
He also wrote, “If anyones going to UM to see obama today, get ur phones out an record. Cause at any moment im gonna put a bullet through his head and u don’t wanna miss that! Youtube!” the complaint said.
In addition, Serrapio is accused of sending text messages that “challenged” Obama’s “communist administration” and “threatened” Secret Service agents.
After Serrapio was arrested, he admitted that he posted the statements, the complaint said.
In a March 1 interview, Serrapio said the postings were “just a joke.”
“I obviously can’t talk about the case directly,” Serrapio said. “But I can say that it was a joke. I mean, it’s Facebook. I’m a musician. The biggest crime I could commit is hitting someone with a guitar.”
Serrapio, a music business major, is enrolled at Miami Dade College.
Stephen Quinzy, Serrapio’s song-writing professor at Kendall Campus said he was shocked when he heard the news.
“Excellent student; one of the best students in the class,” Quinzy said. “Very creative, extremely punctual. He seemed to have a genuine love for what he does; somebody that was going somewhere. I am very disappointed to lose such a great student to such behavior.”
If convicted, Serrapio could face up to 20 years in federal prison, according to the indictment.
College officials declined to comment on Serrapio or his standing at the school.
Serrapio said Serrapio returned to class on March 1 after posting bond after spending five days at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami.
Now that he is back for now Serrapio said he hopes it doesn’t affect his future as a singer and songwriter. On Youtube, he appears singing and playing his acoustic guitar.
“While I was in jail, I found myself surrounded by murderers and criminals, asking me ‘what are you here for?’ And all I could answer was: ‘Facebook.’ ”
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