Trump-supporting influencer Douglass Mackey, aka, ‘Ricky Vaughan’ is jailed for seven


A Trump-supporting Twitter influencer who was found guilty of conspiring to deprive citizens of their right to vote in the 2016 presidential election has been sentenced to seven months in jail.

Douglass Mackey, 33 – known on the internet as ‘Ricky Vaughan’ in reference to the famous Charlie Sheen character from the Major League films – was convicted in March.

He was flagged for his tweets encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to cast meaningless votes by text message instead of casting an actual ballot. 

Upon sentencing, Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Ann Donnelly emphasized Mackey was not going to jail for his conservative views. 

‘You are not being sentenced for your political beliefs or for expressing those beliefs,’ she said. ‘Each one of us has the right to hold opinions and express those opinions.’ 

Douglass Mackey, 33 - known on the internet as 'Ricky Vaughan' in reference to the famous Charlie Sheen character from the Major League films - was convicted in March

Douglass Mackey, 33 – known on the internet as ‘Ricky Vaughan’ in reference to the famous Charlie Sheen character from the Major League films – was convicted in March 

Mackey was charged with one count of conspiring to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution,

He had been known as Ricky Vaughn on social media, based on Charlie Sheen's character in 'Major League', which he used as his Twitter avatar

Mackey had been known as Ricky Vaughn on social media, based on Charlie Sheen’s character in ‘Major League’, which he used as his Twitter avatar (right)

Donnelly said he was being sentenced for an ‘insidious’ attempt to stop people from truly voting and was guilty of ‘nothing short of an assault on our democracy.’

Mackey will have to leave his wife and their child, born this month, on January 18 to report to jail pending appeal, the New York Daily News reported.
‘We look forward to Doug’s vindication on appeal,’ said Mackey’s attorney, Andrew Frisch, upon the sentencing. 

Assistant US Attorney Erik Paulsen called Mackey’s prison sentence ‘essential.’

‘It’s going to send a message to the people who celebrated what this defendant did,’ he said. ‘And it’s going to send a message to those who want to follow in his footsteps.’

Frisch previously argued that Mackey’s memes encouraging Clinton supporters to ‘vote from home’ by text were simply ‘online trash-talking’ in the hopes of gaining viral fame. 

‘Mr. Mackey did not share the memes as some sort of grand plan,’ Frisch told the jury, according to the New York Daily News, arguing the idea of voting by text was patently ridiculous to anyone with basic knowledge of US elections.

According to a criminal complaint, Mackey and unna

According to a criminal complaint, Mackey and unnamed co-conspirators created a number of images purporting to be Clinton campaign ads, including the one above

Mackey had numerous Twitter accounts, and was repeatedly suspended by the social-media company

Mackey had numerous Twitter accounts, and was repeatedly suspended by the social-media company

Mackey, 33 - known on the internet as 'Ricky Vaughn' - was convicted over his tweets encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to cast meaningless votes by text message

Mackey, 33 – known on the internet as ‘Ricky Vaughn’ – was convicted over his tweets encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to cast meaningless votes by text message

Mackey (right) was spotted leaving the Brooklyn federal courthouse in March with his father walking at his side

Mackey (right) was spotted leaving the Brooklyn federal courthouse in March with his father walking at his side

Frisch insisted his client had merely been ‘s**tposting’, an internet term for making provocative satirical posts intended to shock and upset online foes. 

According to a criminal complaint, Mackey and unnamed co-conspirators created a number of images purporting to be Clinton campaign ads, with messages such as ‘Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925.’ 

The phony campaign ads also carried fine print falsely claiming they were ‘Paid for by Hillary for President 2016’. 

The phone number in the fake ads received least 4,900 text message responses with variations on Clinton’s name, including some from people in New York, prosecutors said. 

‘This wasn’t about changing votes. This was about vaporizing votes, making them disappear,’ said Assistant US Attorney Turner Buford during opening remarks. 

‘The number was real and set up to receive incoming messages,’ he argued. ‘The release of these fake campaign ads was timed to flood the internet before Election Day.’ 

During his opening remarks, Mackey's attorney argued that his memes encouraging Clinton supporters to 'vote from home' by text were simply 'online trash-talking'

During his opening remarks, Mackey’s attorney argued that his memes encouraging Clinton supporters to ‘vote from home’ by text were simply ‘online trash-talking’

Mackey, 33 - known on the internet as 'Ricky Vaughn' - is standing trial over his tweets encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to cast meaningless votes by text message

Mackey, 33 – known on the internet as ‘Ricky Vaughn’ – is standing trial over his tweets encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to cast meaningless votes by text message

Jessica Morales, Clinton’s digital organizing director in 2016 testified in the case.

She said the ‘vote by text’ tweets were highly concerning to the campaign, and asked if she viewed them as a joke, she said: ‘No, not a joke. Not for me. Not a parody.’ 

‘It’s a very sneaky graphic. It’s designed to look like it came from the campaign… This is designed to look like what we did,’ she said, according to the Daily News.

At the time of the alleged fraud, Mackey had 58,000 followers on Twitter and was considered an ‘important influencer’ in the election, which was won by Donald Trump, prosecutors said. 

He had described himself as an ‘American nationalist’ who regularly retweeted Trump and promoted conspiracy theories about voter fraud by Democrats. 

The criminal complaint identifies two Twitter accounts associated with Mackey, which were suspended in the weeks before the 2016 election due to alleged spreading of election misinformation.



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