Originally created 02/13/98

Federal prosecutors win cyberspace conviction

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A college dropout who sent threatening e-mail to dozens of Asian students was convicted of committing a hate crime in cyberspace.

A jury on Tuesday found Richard Machado, 21, guilty of a civil rights violation in one of the first successful federal prosecutions of a hate crime via the Internet.

"We feel that this sends an important message to high-tech hatemongers who choose to use the Internet to threaten people's lives," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gennaco.

Machado sent two batches of messages to 59 University of California, Irvine students in 1996. He threatened to "find and kill everyone of you personally."

Machado testified last week that he sent a threatening e-mail to the staff of the campus newspaper on Nov. 16, 1995, because the paper appeared to be in favor of eliminating affirmative action programs. A prosecutor told jurors that the e-mail said the newspaper staff would die in four days.

Machado, a naturalized citizen from El Salvador who flunked out of UC Irvine after one year, faces up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine. He is due in court again Friday.


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