Michigan Fan Sentenced for Facebook Post

Image: Wikimedia Commons, Peter R. Schlitt

Michigan Fan Sentenced for Facebook Post

Threatened to Harm Ohio State Players

A California man that used Facebook Messenger to threaten a shooting at Ohio State University during its annual football game against Michigan has been sentenced to one year and a day over the 2018 threats according to The Associated Press.

Daniel Rippy, of Livermore, California, a Michigan native and University of Michigan fan, vowed to hurt players on the football team and then-head coach Urban Meyer.

Federal Judge Algenon Marbley had harsh words for Rippy during Tuesday’s sentencing done via video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Marbley referenced the mass shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 and Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 as he lectured Rippy on the seriousness of the threats against college athletes just playing a game.

“It’s college competition. That’s all it is,” Marbley said, but added that because of other acts of violence at schools: “We have to take this seriously, because it happens.”

The 29-year-old Rippy, being held in jail in Columbus, apologized several times, saying he’d been having “a bad day” when he made the threats and promised it would never happen again.

“I really didn’t mean for any of this. I feel really bad about it. I would never, ever do any act like this,” Rippy said.

Prosecutors asked for a 15-month sentence, on the lower end of sentencing guidelines. But in the end, Marbley went even lower, noting that, “Some type of psychological or psychic imbalance may have animated this kind of behavior.”

Rippy will receive credit for the 10 months that he’s spent in jail since his January arrest. Rippy’s mental health issues coupled with “some totally unrelated frustrations” led him to lash out the day he made the threats, said his attorney, federal public defender Soumyajit Dutta.

An indictment unsealed late last year in federal court in Columbus accused Rippy of “electronic communication” threat from California during the game between Ohio State and Michigan on Nov. 24, 2018. The game was played in Columbus that year, and Ohio State won 62-39.

Rippy threatened a shooting at the school, saying in a Facebook message to the university, “I’m seriously going to hurt the students and all of the players from the football team,” according to a statement of facts filed with Rippy’s July plea agreement. In separate messages, Rippy also threatened “to injure or kill specific players, their family members and the head coach,” the document said.

Rippy made similar threats against Gonzaga University on its Facebook page three days before the football game, after the Gonzaga men’s basketball team defeated Duke University on Nov. 21, 2018, the government revealed for the first time in an Oct. 7 court filing. Rippy is a Duke fan, the government said.

“Yeah and when I get my hands on the players from the basketball team there going to die one by one,” that posting said, according to federal prosecutors. Rippy later apologized to the school.

“Rippy’s anger and frustration at the loss of his sports teams went beyond the usual shouting at the television as the clock ticks down the final seconds that many of us experience,” Jessica Knight, an assistant U.S. attorney, argued in a court filing. Instead, Rippy’s threat during the Ohio State game sent authorities into a panic as they tried to figure out where he was and whether he posed an imminent threat to a stadium filled with 100,000 people, Knight said.

Rippy, a Michigan fan who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, moved at age 27 to California, where he worked in fast food but couldn’t maintain a residence, the government said.