Pa. man sent to federal prison for threatening, anti-Semitic social media post

A Carbon County man was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for posting a digitally-created image of himself on social media where he was aiming a rifle at a congregation of praying Jewish men, according to a news release.

Corbin Kauffman, 32, of Lehighton, previously pleaded guilty to interstate transmission of threats to injure another. He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani in Scranton.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Kauffman admitted he posted the threatening image on a social media website on March 13, 2019. The image shows Kauffman’s hand aiming an AR-15 rifle at a congregation of Jewish men gathered in a synagogue. The threatening image came in the wake of the October 27, 2018, mass-shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 died and several more were wounded.

Kauffman was represented in federal court by attorney Christopher R. Opiel of Wilkes-Barre. Opiel said Wednesday Kauffman wants to move on with his life and put the case behind him.

On the same day he posted the image, Kauffman shared a post in support of the Tree of Life shooter, according to the news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Also that day Kauffman posted multiple references to “hate crimes” and a photograph of vandalism he committed by putting white supremacist and anti-Semitic stickers on a display case at the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center in Ocean City, Maryland, the release says.

Kauffman posted hundreds of anti-Semitic, anti-black, and anti-Muslim messages, images, and videos. Several included threats to various religious and racial groups. Other posts expressed a desire to commit genocide and “hate crimes,” and called for or depicted images of the killing of Jewish people, black people, and Muslim people, according to the news release.

Brandler said some of Kauffman’s images and messages were protected under his First Amendment right to free speech, but many of them crossed the line into threats directed at ethnic and religious groups.

“Vulnerable communities are entitled to feel safe in living their lives and exercising their own rights,” Brandler said. “Under federal law, when you target a person or a group because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation, that is a hate crime.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean A. Camoni. Brandler is the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

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