Feds detain Reardon; local case dropped
New Middletown man, 20, facing federal charges in JCC threat
YOUNGSTOWN — The man accused of using the internet to make threats of violence against the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown will remain in federal custody as a federal grand jury determines if he should be indicted, according to court records.
James Reardon, 20, faces a federal complaint in U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio in Youngstown accusing him of one count of transmitting threatening communications via interstate commerce.
The local case against him was dismissed.
Reardon, of New Middletown, was facing misdemeanor charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing in Struthers Municipal Court. That case was dismissed Wednesday by Judge Dominic R. Leone III because of Reardon’s federal case, though Reardon has not yet been indicted federally. U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said last month he expects more charges to be brought against Reardon should he be indicted.
At the Thursday hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge George J. Limbert, U.S. attorneys presented photographic evidence that Reardon was at the 2017 white nationalist rally “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, Va.
The photographs show then-18-year-old Reardon holding a Vanguard America shield. Vanguard America is “a white supremacist group that opposes multiculturalism and believes America should be an exclusively white nation,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Police confiscated numerous weapons from Reardon’s home. The Maschinenpistole 40, for example, was developed in Nazi Germany and can fire more than 500 rounds per minute. The gun and several others — including two AR-15s and a bolt action rifle — were seized and police also found white nationalist propaganda.
Ross Smith, a Youngstown attorney who represented Reardon in a Struthers hearing, said last month it was “unfair” to call Reardon a white nationalist — someone who believes people who are not white are inferior and a country of just white people should exist.
At the hearing Thursday, Smith said his client was never arrested in Virginia and that his views, no matter how repugnant, are protected by the Constitution, according to Tribune Chronicle newspartner WKBN-TV 27.
“We are this point trying to criminalize speech,” Smith said. “I don’t like that kind of speech, but the Constitution says it doesn’t matter.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Toepfer said the government is not criminalizing speech. He said when threats are made, that crosses the line. “The law prohibits those thoughts that frighten the community,” Toepfer said.
New Middletown police Chief Vincent D’Egidio said his department became aware of Reardon’s threats against the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown when an acquaintance of Reardon approached one of his part-time officers Aug. 16 with concerns about a video she saw on Reardon’s Instagram account.
D’Egidio described the woman as a previous friend of Reardon who was being continually bothered by him.
In the video, Reardon held a rifle in multiple firing positions with audio of gunshots and sound effects of sirens and people screaming in the background.
The video also had a caption that states,”the police have identified the shooter of the Youngstown Jewish Family Community Center as local white nationalist Sheamus O’Reardon.”
Sheamus is a Gaelic version of the name James.