Pickford man sentenced to federal prison for threats against Jewish community

A Pickford man was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison for making threats to kill Jewish people.

Sean Pietila, age 20, pleaded guilty in November to transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce.

Pietila sent messages containing threats to kill others to an Instagram user located outside of Michigan.

In June 2023, while executing a federal search warrant, the FBI found notes in Pietila’s cell phone that indicated plans to engage in a mass shooting and to commit suicide.

The FBI investigation yielded evidence that Pietila had identified a Jewish synagogue in East Lansing, a specific date in March 2024 and made a wish list of firearms and other weapons.

“Today and every day we will take swift action to detect and disrupt hate crimes. No Michigander should live in fear because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or any other protected status. I’m incredibly grateful to FBI Michigan and our other law enforcement partners for their diligence and dedication,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said.

Pietila will also serve three years of supervised release following incarceration and pay more than $10,000 in restitution.