Kentucky man pleads guilty to threatening Obama in online poem
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man pleaded guilty Tuesday to writing and posting on a white supremacist website a poem threatening the assassination of President Barack Obama with a sniper rifle.
Johnny Logan Spencer Jr., 28, of Louisville, entered an open plea — admitting guilt without a deal with prosecutors — in U.S. District Court in Louisville.
Spencer's sentencing is set for Nov. 2. The charge carries a maximum of five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lettricea Jefferson-Webb said the poem threatened Obama's life and stayed online for at least four months.
"The poem did in fact include a threat against the life of President Obama?” U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin asked.
"Yes, sir," Spencer responded.
U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Stephan M. Pazenzia said in an affidavit that Spencer wrote and posted the poem, titled "The Sniper," on a page called NewSaxon.org. The site is described as an “Online Community for Whites by Whites.: The poem was first posted in August 2007 and again in 2009 after Obama took office, according to an arrest affidavit.
The poem describes a gunman shooting and killing a “tyrant” later identified as the president, setting off panic in the wake of the fatal shot being fired.
Spencer used the online moniker “Pain1488,” a reference to a phrase used by white nationalists as well as an homage to Adolf Hitler.
The Secret Service became aware of the poem just after the 2008 election that made Obama the first black president in the country’s history. An arrest affidavit says the Secret Service referenced the writing in a report on the white supremacist National Socialist movement. But at the time, the affidavit says, “Spencer was never identified, located, or interviewed.”
Spencer is currently on probation for a state drug conviction in Louisville.