TROY, N.C. (WGHP) — A Piedmont Triad man has been charged after he allegedly sent threatening emails to a North Carolina Jewish organization.
Jeffrey Scott Hobgood, of Troy, was arrested and charged on Monday with communicating threats. Law enforcement alleges that he sent threatening emails to a family member last year and then sent antisemitic, threatening emails to an unidentified Charlotte-based Jewish organization, according to publicly filed court documents.
In June 2022, a woman reported to the Carter County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee that Hobgood had sent an email threatening her and her husband. The victim also reported threats from Hobgood to an area FBI agent in September 2022, stating that he had both threatened her and the FBI and wrote in an email to tell “[victim’s husband] he will hang,” according to court documents. She reported these threats to her local police department and Troy police.
The FBI says, on Oct. 11, an email address associated with Hobgood sent an email to a Charlotte-based worship center, writing in part “I am going to take out every one of you” and “You can’t stop what is coming,” signed with the name J. Scott Hobgood.
The center sent a screenshot of the email to a Charlotte-based FBI field office, which contacted the Troy Police Department. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department had also been in contact with TPD about Hobgood, according to the documents.
TPD officers made contact with Hobgood, asking him to contact CMPD about the alleged threats. He refused, and TPD asked him about the threats. Allegedly, Hobgood admitted to sending an email to the Jewish center but told them the contents were “none of their business” and told them to leave his property, saying it would be “dangerous” for them if they stayed.
Two days after the initial email, on Oct. 13, Hobgood allegedly sent another email to the same Jewish center, opening “Dear Lucifer/satan s—birds.” The email made threats and called them “traitors,” threatening public execution. It also included a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “headshots of individuals purportedly associated with multiple news media organizations, with stars of David affixed to the upper left-hand corner of each headshot.”
Hobgood is charged with transmitting in interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure the person of another, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
“No one in America should be threatened based on their race, nationality, religion, gender, or other protected characteristics,” said United States Attorney Sandra J. Hairston. “Individuals who target other community members will be held accountable for their actions.”
“No one should be threatened with violence or acts of hate because of who they are or how they worship. The FBI partners with communities of faith across North Carolina. Crimes driven by hate have no place in our state,” said North Carolina FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert M. DeWitt.
Rise in antisemitism
On Monday, the FBI released crime data for 2022. An annual report on the number of hate crimes reported to the FBI was part of the data released, showing an increase in reported hate crimes from 2021 to 2022. Among those increased hate crimes was a sharp increase in antisemitism, with anti-Jewish hate crimes rising by more than 37% from 2021, with a reported 1,122 incidents.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), who is a co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, released a statement along with her fellow co-chairs in the House and Senate, responded to this steep rise in anti-Jewish crime.
“We are deeply concerned by the FBI’s 2022 Hate Crimes Statistics report, which showed the highest number of reported anti-Jewish incidents in decades,” Manning said. “This disturbing report underscores the seriousness of the rapidly growing threat of antisemitism to Jewish communities. According to FBI Director Wray, there is already an increase in reported threats to the Jewish community in response to Hamas’ war against Israel. It is imperative that the United States government immediately take extra measures to protect the Jewish community.”