There’s an old adage that goes something like, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Apparently, Virginia’s William White is fresh out of honey, so the only thing he caught with his sour collection tactics was a 92-month stretch in federal prison.
According to the Jan. 7 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in U.S. v. White, it is not only rude, but wholly illegal to send threatening emails to one’s ex-wife in an attempt to compel alimony payments.
In emails sent in May and June of 2012, White tells his wife that if she doesn’t fork over the $500 she owes him, he’ll be sending a Roanoke loan shark to pay her a visit. Have the money when she’s contacted, White warned, or she would “probably be hospitalized.”
Why didn’t White just meet his wife and collect the money himself, you ask? Ah, yes.
Apparently, White, a reported former neo-Nazi leader, had fled to Mexico after serving prison time for telephonically threatening a university administrator and sending “intimidating letters” to some other folks. He spent some time behind bars but was free, awaiting resentencing, when he absconded south of the border.
In pleading his case, White argued that it’s impossible to extort what is owed to you. (The ex-wife allegedly agreed to pay White alimony after their relationship fizzled while he was doing time, but thereafter decided not to fund a fugitive.) But White is apparently unaware that the 4th Circuit is of the opinion that “the wrongful threat to procure something of value” is indeed extortion.
He is now well aware that the court finds the statement “you are going to have the living [expletive] beat out of you” direct, declarative and most definitely wrongful.
The court did find that the district court’s jury charge that White could be convicted without regard to his subjective intent was erroneous, but it also unanimously found that error to be harmless because no rational jury could conclude anything other than White intended to threaten his ex-wife.
“A defendant is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect one,” the court wrote, also deciding that the defendant is entitled to every day of the 7½ years he was sentenced to.
—Heath Hamacher, Dolan Staff Writer