11/28/2017 (Tue) 20:54:05
Federal charge dropped against man accused of sending tweet that set off journalist’s seizure
November 27, 2017
Dallas Morning News
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency
>DALLAS — Federal prosecutors have dismissed their case against a Maryland man accused of sending a seizure-inducing tweet to Dallas-based journalist Kurt Eichenwald last year. A judge granted the U.S. attorney's motion to drop a cyberstalking charge against John Rayne Rivello on Nov. 21. The charge was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that prosecutors can choose to refile it in the future.
>Rivello, 30, still faces one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Dallas County. That charge carries a hate crime enhancement.
Eichenwald also has sued Rivello for monetary damages.
>In a statement, Rivello's attorney David Gerger said his client, a Marine veteran who suffers from PTSD, "is thrilled that the DOJ dismissed this exaggerated case." Eichenwald, a senior writer at Newsweek and a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, said last December that someone had tweeted a flashing image at him that induced an eight-minute epileptic seizure. The image read: "You deserve a seizure for your post."
>The tweet — from an account named @jew(underscore)goldstein — came shortly after a segment on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show where Eichenwald and Carlson had argued with each other about their political biases and journalistic missteps. Eichenwald's wife found him during the seizure and called 911. She also photographed the tweet and replied to it, saying that she had reported it to the authorities. "This is his wife, you caused a seizure. I have your information and have called the police to report the assault," she wrote.
>Authorities found a number of direct messages on the account that made reference to Eichenwald, according to a criminal complaint against Rivello. "I hope this sends him into a seizure" and "let's see if he dies," two read.
>Another said Eichenwald "deserves to have his liver pecked out by a pack of emus."
>The iCloud account included other files related to Eichenwald, authorities said. Rivello was arrested at his home in March.
>The Dallas County indictment says Rivello used a deadly weapon — the animated image — to assault Eichenwald. A hate crime enhancement was added because of Rivello's "bias or prejudice against a group identified by race, ancestry, or religion, namely: persons of Jewish faith or descent." At the time, Eichenwald's attorney Steven Liberman compared the incident to someone sending anthrax or a bomb in the mail.
>Eichenwald reported that dozens of copycats sent flashing images to him in the aftermath of the incident, adding that he'd passed them along to authorities.