A Howard County man was sentenced Thursday to two years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for leaving a threatening voicemail message with a group that advocates for LGBTQI+ people.

Adam Michael Nettina, 34, of West Friendship also delivered threats to two legislators, a state delegate from Maryland and one from Virginia, who had expressed support for transgender people, according to a news release Thursday from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal prosecutors presented the evidence at a sentencing hearing Thursday before U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III.

“You have the right to your own opinions, but you don’t have the right to threaten the lives of those who disagree with you. As this case demonstrates, free speech does not include violent threats against others,” said Erek L. Barron, the U.S. Attorney for Maryland, according to the news release. “We’ll continue prosecuting these threats to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Nettina targeted and threatened members of the LGBTQI+ community and their allies, “instilling fear and promoting violence toward a heavily targeted community,” according to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to combating threats against public officials and protected communities. We will work tirelessly to expunge the growing threat posed by bias-motivated acts of violence directed at the LGBTQI+ community and their allies.”

On the evening of March 28, 2023, according to court documents, the D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign received a threatening voicemail from a phone number, which investigators identified as belonging to Nettina.

The message referenced a mass shooting at a school in Nashville, Tennessee, a day earlier, where there were multiple fatalities. Police identified the perpetrator in that shooting as a transgender woman, DOJ officials said in the news release. The message to the D.C. group included threats such as ”We’ll cut your throats. We’ll put a bullet in your head. ... You’re going to kill us? We’re going to kill you ten times more in full.”

Nettina later admitted that he left this voicemail for the purpose of issuing a threat and with the knowledge that it would be viewed as a threat, the press release stated.

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“Nettina intentionally selected the advocacy organization as a target of his message because of the actual and perceived gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation of the people who work at and are assisted by the organization,” DOJ officials said.

According to documents in Nettina’s plea agreement, a Maryland state delegate on March 31, 2022, posted a message on social media in support of Trans Day of Visibility. That same day, Nettina responded on social media that he had “begun the formal process of getting you excommunicated" from the Catholic Church. When the same delegate was reelected on Nov. 8, 2022, Nettina sent them another message on social media, stating: "Baby killing terrroist. Enjoy hell You’re going sooner than you think.”

On Oct. 15, 2022, two days after an interview was published in which a Virginia state delegate advocated for the prevention of abuse toward transgender children, court documents state that Nettina sent an email to her press email account, stating: “The delegate is a terrorist. You are a terrorist. You deserve to be shot and hung in the streets. You want to come after people? Let’s go b**ch.”

Two minutes later, Nettina sent a similar message to another email address of the delegate.

Representatives of the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Maryland state Del. Nick Allen, who attended Mount St. Joseph High School with Nettina and was the delegate threatened by Nettina, declined to comment on Thursday’s sentencing.

In August, Allen acknowledged that he was the targeted lawmaker and called the case “unfortunate,” adding: “It’s also very clear that we have a mental health crisis in the country. I think that is obvious to pretty much everyone at this point. And we have a hate crisis, for lack of a better term. We see all too often that those tend to overlap. This is one of those cases.”

“I am praying for him,” Allen said at the time. “I hope this is a turning point for him. Because nobody wants to live their life this way.”

Pamela Wood contributed to this report.

John-John Williams IV is a diversity, equity and inclusion reporter at The Baltimore Banner. A native of Syracuse, N.Y. and a graduate of Howard University, he has lived in Baltimore for the past 17 years. 

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