U.S. Attorney’s Office – Western District of Texas, June 21, 2021
SAN ANTONIO – A federal jury today convicted 40-year-old Christopher Charles Perez, aka “Christopher Robbins,” with perpetrating a COVID-19-related hoax in April of last year.
Jurors convicted Perez on two counts of 18 U.S.C. § 1038, which criminalizes false information and hoaxes related to biological weapons. Evidence presented during trial revealed that Perez posted two threatening messages on Facebook in which he claimed to have paid someone who was infected with COVID-19 to lick items at grocery stores in the San Antonio area because he was trying to scare people away from visiting the stores. On April 5, 2020, a screenshot of the initial posting was sent by an online tip to the Southwest Texas Fusion Center (SWTFC), which then contacted the FBI office in San Antonio for further investigation. To be clear, the threat was false; Perez did not pay someone to intentionally spread coronavirus at grocery stores, according to investigators and Perez’s own admissions.
“Our community feels safer when we are free from this type of hoax threat. When Perez posted his threats on-line, his hoax posed a very real risk of spreading panic throughout our community at a time when the public was already facing the difficult challenges of a global pandemic. The jury verdict today affirms that hoax threats such as this merit investigation and prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff.