Texas Man Gets 15 Months In COVID “Licking” Hoax

From the Department of Justice:

A San Antonio man was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for perpetrating a hoax related to COVID-19 in April 2020. According to court records, a federal jury found Christopher Charles Perez, aka Christopher Robbins, 40, guilty of two counts of 18 U.S.C. § 1038, which criminalizes false information and hoaxes related to biological weapons.

Evidence presented during trial revealed that Perez posted two threatening messages on Facebook in which he claimed to have paid someone who was infected with COVID-19 to lick items at grocery stores in the San Antonio area to scare people away from visiting the stores.

On April 5, 2020, a screenshot of the initial posting was sent by an online tip to the Southwest Texas Fusion Center (SWTFC), which then contacted the FBI office in San Antonio for further investigation. The threat was false. Perez did not pay someone to intentionally spread coronavirus at grocery stores, according to investigators and Perez’s own admissions.

In addition to the sentence, Perez was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. “Trying to scare people with the threat of spreading dangerous diseases is no joking matter,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “This office takes seriously threats to harm the community and will prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”