A 28-year-old man accused of sending a threatening message to Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and three years of probation.
Alec Dane Redner was arrested in January after investigators accused him of posting a death threat to the mayor on her political website.
Redner’s case began in state courts, but prosecutors dismissed the state allegations of communicating threats, threatening an executive, legal or court officer and obstruction of justice after a federal grand jury indicted him in March. Federal authorities arrested Redner in the Wake County jail on March 31.
Prosecutors said that on Jan. 14 at about 7 p.m., two police detectives went to the North Raleigh home on Brass Kettle Road where Redner lived with his mother.
The detectives said they had gone to the house for a “knock and talk” session with Redner about comments posted to McFarlane’s website that troubled the mayor and police. A woman peered through a window, and detectives said they heard a man using profanity and a slur against the mayor.
The investigators left, according to the court documents, out of concern for their safety and that of Redner’s mother. Officers knew that Redner had fled from police previously and at one time had an assault rifle.
Though Redner was accused by federal authorities in March of communicating a threat against an individual, he pleaded guilty in July to aiding and abetting obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors said he reached out to his mother while in jail and asked her to dispose of the computer that investigators said was used to send the message to McFarlane.
Defense attorney John Wiles tried to get the case dismissed, arguing that Redner’s message on McFarlane’s website was a political statement and not a “true threat” of violence and that prosecuting him would violate his First Amendment rights. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle rejected that argument in June.
McFarlane hasn’t spoken publicly about the case, but in a February court hearing, a Wake County prosecutor said McFarlane feared for her safety and the safety of her family.
On Tuesday, Boyle denied Wiles’ request that Redner be placed on probation instead of being sent to prison so he could undergo counseling.
Federal prosecutors argued that Redner should receive counseling in prison because of a long-standing disdain for law enforcement officials.
Redner was ordered to undergo counseling for anger management and psychosis disorder while in prison. After he’s released, he could be subject to additional counseling during his three years of supervised probation.