WASHINGTON—Javier Alan Correa, 24, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Nashville, Tennesee, today and charged with violating the civil rights of members of a Murfreesboro, Tennessee mosque. Correa is charged in the Middle District of Tennessee with one count of intentionally obstructing by threat of force the free exercise of religious beliefs and one count of using an instrument of interstate commerce to communicate a threat to destroy a building by means of an explosive device. The indictment was announced today by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez for the Civil Rights Division; Jerry E. Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee; and Aaron T. Ford, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Division of the FBI.
According to the indictment, on September 5, 2011, Correa called on a cell phone from Corpus Christi to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro and left a threatening, explicative-ridden voice message saying, amongst other things, “On September 11, 2011, there’s going to be a bomb in the building.“
“The Department of Justice, the FBI, and our law enforcement partners intend to protect the rights afforded under the Constitution to all individuals, including the most basic right to exercise freedom of religious beliefs,” said Jerry E. Martin, U.S. Attorney of the Middle District of Tennessee. “The controversy and criminal activity surrounding the construction of this particular place of worship has impeded the ability of people to exercise that most basic right. We will continue to monitor the progress of construction and legal proceedings at the local level to insure these citizens are able to enjoy all basic liberties guaranteed under the Constitution.”
“The FBI is tasked with defending civil rights in the United States and takes very seriously its responsibilities to protect people of all religions from intimidation and violence,” said Aaron T. Ford, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Division of the FBI. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners pursued this investigation with great tenacity and will always strive to ensure those who attempt to take religious freedoms from others are brought to face justice.”
Correa faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for the count one and 10 years for count two of the indictment, as well as a fine of up to $250,000 for each offense.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Deneke and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Adriana Vieco.
An indictment is merely an accusation. All persons are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty and have the right to a trial, at which, the government must bear the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.