MIAMI – A 20-year-old college student who told investigators he was merely trying to get a reaction from President Barack Obama's supporters pleaded guilty Wednesday to posting threatening messages against the president on Facebook.
Joaquin Amador Serrapio Jr. could get up to five years in federal prison for pleading guilty to a single count of threatening to kill or harm the president, but likely will get less time, said his attorney Alan Ross. Sentencing is set for Aug. 22 before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke.
There's no evidence that Serrapio intended to carry out any threat against the president and Obama was never in any danger, investigators said.
"He wanted to get a reaction from political supporters of President Obama," Ross said.
Serrapio is a music business major at Miami-Dade College who also fronts for a rock group called the "J. Valor Band." Using the "Jay Valor" page on Facebook, prosecutors said Serrapio posted two threatening messages around the time Obama visited South Florida in February to deliver a speech at the University of Miami and attend two fundraisers.
In the first post on Feb. 21, Serrapio said: "Who wants to help me assassinate Obummer while hes at UM this week?"
Then on Feb. 23, the day of Obama's visit, the Secret Service said Serappio posted a second threat.
"If anyones going to UM to see Obama today, get ur phones out and record. Cause at any moment im gonna put a bullet through his head and u don't wanna miss that! Youtube!" the message said.
Someone who saw the posts contacted the Coral Gables Police Department and the Secret Service dispatched two agents to Serrapio's home, where Serrapio and his mother agreed to allow a search. There they found an iPad with one of the Facebook postings on it and a cell phone with a text message from one of Serrapio's friends who had seen the messages.
"LOL you can get in trouble for sayin' that," the text said.
Serrapio replied that he was "challenging" the Secret Service and also issued threats against any agents who came looking for him.
"I wanna kill at least two of them when they get here," Serrapio said in that text.
Investigators said the only weapons Serrapio possessed were two pellet guns. He was originally charged with threatening the agents as well, but prosecutor Seth Schlessinger said that charge will be dropped.
Serrapio said during the hearing he had just completed his second year of college. He declined through Ross to comment outside court.