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Christopher Cantwell guilty of extortion and threats
After a four-day trial, the neo-Nazi podcaster was found guilty on two charges. He now faces a maximum sentence of 22 years.
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Christopher Cantwell, the neo-Nazi podcaster charged by federal prosecutors with threatening to rape a rival neo-Nazi’s wife has been found guilty of extortion and threats. Jurors acquitted Cantwell of cyberstalking.
Cantwell, who has been nicknamed the "Crying Nazi" and who sobbed multiple times during the trial, had no obvious reaction as the jury foreperson read the verdict.
He now faces a maximum of 22 years in prison, though his sentence will likely be less than that. He will remain behind bars before his sentencing, which is scheduled for January 4.
Jurors reached their verdict after a four-day trial in a Concord federal courtroom. Deliberations began on Friday afternoon and continued Monday morning, lasting less than three hours.
The charges stemmed from a series of messages Cantwell sent to Benjamin Lambert, a Missouri man who used the alias “CheddarMane” and who was a member of the Bowl Patrol, a loosely affiliated group of neo-Nazis who declare mass shooters to be “saints” and cheer the type of violence they think will set off a race war and subsequently usher in a white ethnostate.
In the messages, Cantwell said he would “fuck” Lambert’s wife if the man did not give up information about another rival neo-Nazi, known at the time only by the pseudonym “Vic Mackey.”
Vic Mackey, who has since been unmasked as Andrew Casarez, was the leader of the group. The group’s name is an homage to the bowl-style haircut worn by the white supremacist convicted of murdering multiple people in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015.
“So if you don’t want me to come and fuck your wife in front of your kids, then you should make yourself scarce[.] Give me Vic, it’s your only out,” Cantwell wrote in a June 2019 Telegram message to CheddarMane.
Lambert testified as a government witness, as did Paul Nehlen, the twice failed Wisconsin congressional candidate who has been closely associated with the Bowl Patrol since 2019.
Cantwell was the only witness for the defense.
Following the verdict on Monday, Lambert told The Informant he was relieved.
“I’m happy that the trial is over,” Lambert said. “I’m even happier to be back home with my family. I am thankful to have the opportunity to turn the page on this part of my life.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Davis, who prosecuted the case, said he was “pleased” and “vindicated” by the verdict.
He also said the case should be an example for some of the toxic corners of the web.
“I do think there is a deterrent value — I hope there is — for everyone, including everyone on the internet, including in the white nationalist world and in other worlds where really abhorrent things are said,” Davis said.
“When freedom of speech is weaponized, and threats are made, a line must be drawn where individuals like Christopher Cantwell will not be allowed to cross,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.
Cantwell and his attorneys have thus far declined to comment.
Cantwell is perhaps best known for being involved in the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. His role in the rally has landed him in other legal trouble, including being named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit against the organizers of the rally.
The group organizing the lawsuit, Integrity First for America, hailed Cantwell’s conviction.
“It’s particularly powerful that this verdict was handed down on Yom Kippur — the Jewish day of atonement — against a neo-Nazi defendant who has made antisemitism central to his violence,” said the organization’s executive director, Amy Spitalnick. “But justice has not yet been fully served when it comes to Cantwell. Our plaintiffs won’t back down from holding him accountable for the violence he brought to Charlottesville three years ago.”
This article has been updated.
Hilary Sargent is a freelance journalist. She has written for The New York Times, QUARTZ, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal. Follow her on Twitter at @lilsarg.
Illustration by Colleen Tighe.
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