A San Diego man whose social media postings regarding armed vigilantism and violent extremism drew law enforcement attention to both himself and a Georgia sheriff’s deputy was sentenced Monday to a two-year prison term for possessing unregistered firearms.
Grey Zamudio, 32, was arrested last summer after the FBI received a tip regarding his social media posts, in which prosecutors say he spoke of “the need for `vigilante militias,”‘ that he was “ready to die” and wanted “to crush the liberal terrorists.”
Investigators’ review of Zamudio’s cell phone records also led to the prosecution of Cody Richard Griggers, a former sheriff’s deputy in Wilkinson County, Georgia, who was sentenced earlier this year to nearly four years in prison, also for possessing unregistered firearms.
In a group text located on Zamudio’s phone, members of a group dubbed “Shadow Moses” or “Shadmo” discussed a theoretical civil war and killing liberal politicians, according to an affidavit prepared by an FBI agent.
In the group text, Griggers, 28, boasted about beating a Black suspect, calling it “sweet stress relief,” according to court documents, and wrote that he “intended to charge Black people with felonies in order to keep them from voting.”
Prosecutors also allege Griggers said he wanted to use his position in law enforcement to obtain flashbangs and entry charges, to which Zamudio said he would “pay big money for bang and boom … I’m ready to terrorize l.a.”
Zamudio pleaded guilty last year to federal charges for illegally possessing a short-barrel rifle and two silencers.
At his sentencing hearing in San Diego federal court, Zamudio’s attorney, Leila Morgan, urged the court to not weigh his online statements when imposing the sentence.
“He does have the right to hold beliefs that we may not agree with, that we might not even like,” Morgan said. “Those beliefs, in and of themselves, are not criminal and they are not, in fact, indicative of any future harm, absent weapons that Mr. Zamudio will no longer have access to.”
In court papers, his attorney said Zamudio was “working in the very same type of small businesses that were being impacted by the violent protests (in 2020)” and “clearly had a very strong emotional reaction to what was happening,” but did not act on any of his statements.
“His online bravado and his day-to-day actions are not the same,” the defense sentencing memorandum reads. “Mr. Zamudio has been a contributing member of his community in the past and he will be in the future.”
Prosecutors argued in their court papers that Zamudio poses a danger to the public, as he “has demonstrated (a) violent ideology, including his intent to harm individuals” and “violent ideology and illegal firearms are a dangerous combination.”
U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes acknowledged that much had been made of Zamudio’s online comments, but said “he’s not here because of what he thinks or what he says or what he looks at. He’s here because of the nature of the offense, which is the possession of the silencers and short-barrel firearm.”
In addition to the 24-month custodial sentence, Zamudio will be on supervised release for three years, during which he will be prohibited from associating with members of white supremacist groups or displaying any white supremacist paraphernalia. However, other conditions that prosecutors sought, such prohibitions against accessing, viewing, using or possessing “extremist propaganda,” were not imposed, as Hayes felt those conditions were overly broad.
–City News Service