COVID hoax leads San Antonio man to 15 months in federal prison

A federal jury found a San Antonio man guilty of providing false or misleading information Monday after the man tried to scare people at local grocery stores last April.

Christopher Charles Perez, also known as “Christopher Robbins,” twice posted to Facebook claiming to pay someone infected with COVID-19 to lick things in stores in San Antonio.

The threat was false, according to prosecutors and Perez’s own admission.

A screenshot of his message was sent to the Southwest Texas Fusion Center, which then contacted the San Antonio FBI office for further investigation.

U.S. lawyer Ashley Hoff said trying to scare people at risk of dangerous illnesses was no laughing matter.

“Our community feels safer when we are released from this type of hoax threat. When Perez posted his threats online, his hoax posed a very real risk of causing panic in our community at a time when the public already faced difficult challenges. global pandemic. The jury verdict today says hoax threats such as this one deserve investigation and prosecution, ”Hoff said in a press release.

Perez was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on two counts related to the hoax and a fine of $ 1,000.

Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said that although the threat was not carried out, it represents a “significant cost to our community”.

“Perez’s threats, made during a pandemic, targeting a company doing everything possible to provide food, medicine and essentials to our community, likely added to fear and confusion during a difficult time. “said Combs.

Brian Kirkpatrick contributed to this story.

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