Holocaust-denier Behind Twitter Threats Gets Probation

A Michigan man and Holocaust-denier who used Twitter to fantasize about killing school children and Jews will be banned from social media and the Internet for two years under supervised probation terms imposed by a judge.

David Joseph Lenio, a 31-year-old self-described white nationalist who said his ideal job would be operating a human gas chamber, also must undergo mental health treatment and not go within 1,000 feet of schools or Jewish synagogues. 

He was fined $1,000 and ordered to have no contact with Jonathan Hutson, a Maryland communications consultant who first brought Lenio’s Twitter threats to the attention of the FBI in 2015.

“I don’t think there’s any place in society for the things that you’re saying,’’ Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock said from the bench, telling Lenio he has “some very serious mental health issues.”  

“God forbid that you would ever act out some of these things,’’ the judge said.

Lenio chose not to address the court or offer any public apology or explanation for his behavior at the sentencing hearing.

In June, a jury in Kent County, Michigan, found Lenio guilty of malicious use of a telecommunications service, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. He was found not guilty of two felony counts of aggravated stalking and using a computer to commit a crime.

 Lenio, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, had served four months in jail after his arrest in February in his hometown.

“You only talked about things that you wanted to do and I believe that’s why the jury found you not guilty of the more serious charges,’’ the judge told Lenio.

Lenio, an itinerant cook and son of a wealthy, influential Michigan banker, was initially arrested on Twitter-threat related charges in Flathead County, Montana, in 2015. But for unexplained reasons, the prosecutor there elected not to take the case to trial and deferred the criminal charges, allowing Lenio to return to his parents’ home in Grand Rapids.

Within weeks, he resumed firing off hate-filled, anti-Semitic tweets, asking at one point how much it would cost to buy a gun with enough ammunition to kill 99 school kids. In February he also tweeted that he would rather see 500 American Jews beheaded than to see one Holocaust denier spend five minutes in jail.

He also fired off tweets threatening Hutson. He tweeted that he was “more full of hate and rage than ever” and bent on revenge after serving five months in a Montana jail. Lenio was arrested in late February in Michigan on charges he used social media to “terrorize, frighten, intimidate and harass” Hutson in violation of the Montana court order.

Hutson reported Lenio’s threats and anti-Semitic tweets to Twitter, and he ultimately was banned from the social media platform.