Barrett Lancaster Brown became the public face for Anonymous, a hacking collective that has wrecked havoc on computers nationwide.
Now the spokesman-like figure faces up to eight-and-half years in prison for public posts he made on YouTube and Twitter targeting FBI Agent Robert Smith because authorities were threatening to go after his mom for obstruction of justice charges on accusations that she tried to hide one of Brown’s computer’s, CNET reports.
“Robert Smith’s life is over,” Brown said in a YouTube video. “When I say his life is over, I’m not saying I’m going to kill him, but I am going to ruin his life…”
On Tuesday, Brown, 32, pleaded guilty to federal charges of making Internet threats, obstructing a search warrant and being an accessory to unauthorized access of a protected computer.
Brown’s attorneys Jay Leiderman told CNET Brown was protected by his first-amendment rights.
“It looks like he may have a very strong First Amendment defense to this,” Leiderman said. “Barrett engages in a lot of hyperbole, a lot of saber rattling, and he often speaks off the cuff and says sometimes things I don’t really think he means. Without having talked to him it’s hard for me to conceive of this as really a threat, as opposed to posturing, puffery.”