Update: At the Nov. 26 hearing, the judge determined that Farca would remain in custody.
Ross Farca, the 23-year-old East Bay man facing felony charges after allegedly posting an online plan to murder Jews, falsified an application to join the Army in 2017 in violation of federal law, according to the FBI.
U.S. attorneys filed a criminal complaint last week in federal court in San Francisco, saying Farca lied about his mental health history at an Army recruitment center, in an effort to join the U.S. Army. He was taken into custody on Nov. 21 and remained in detention pending a 10:30 a.m. hearing on Nov. 26 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim is expected to determine whether Farca will be kept in custody, released on bail or ordered released with conditions.
In an email sent Nov. 25, Nancy Appel, senior associate regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Rafael Brinner, director of Jewish community security for the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, said “We encourage you and your members to attend the hearing to demonstrate our community’s continued concern about the potential threat Farca poses.”
The federal charge represents the latest development in an increasingly bizarre and unsettling story, particularly for members of the East Bay Jewish community, which first learned about Farca’s alleged threats in June. In addition to detailing online his plan to murder Jews, police say they found a modified semi-automatic rifle, more than a dozen high-capacity magazines and Nazi literature in his Concord home.
The charge also indicates mounting legal jeopardy for Farca, who already faces felony weapons charges and an allegation of making criminal threats in Contra Costa County, where he is scheduled for a Dec. 9 preliminary hearing.
According to the felony complaint filed last week, FBI special agent Tyler Esswein said Farca violated the federal statute against “knowingly mak[ing] false statements to a government agency” after he allegedly lied on a background check form.
Farca went to a recruitment center in Mountain View on June 22, 2017, according to the FBI, and answered “no” while filling out a computerized form that asked if he had undergone mental health treatment within the last seven years.
“This statement and representation is false,” wrote Esswein, an Oakland-based agent with the FBI’s domestic terrorism squad, “as Farca has regularly seen a psychiatrist and taken prescription medication for mental health issues since at least 2011.”
According to the complaint, Farca had been receiving mental health treatment at Kaiser Permanente Medical Group for years and met frequently with case managers at a nonprofit in the East Bay that works with the California Department of Developmental Services.
Farca’s medical diagnoses were redacted from the complaint, though his defense lawyer, Joseph Tully, has said that his client has autism. Autism does not increase violent behavior, according to medical researchers.
Farca was accepted into the Army, and on Aug. 28, 2017, he reported to Fort Benning, Georgia, for basic training, records indicate. A few days into boot camp, the complaint said, he was arrested for “assaulting a fellow army trainee.” Farca was then admitted to a psychiatric unit “for approximately 12 days” and was discharged on Oct. 3, 2017, citing “erroneous enlistment; medical condition disqualifying for military service.”
Farca had hoped to join the Army for years prior to his arrest, and documents filed in Contra Costa County and in federal court show his fascination with war was known to mental health providers and to police dating back to 2012.
On “at least three occasions” Farca asked his psychiatrist for a letter of clearance to join the military, requests his psychiatrist denied, Esswein wrote.
Police were alerted to Farca in at least two instances between 2012 and 2015.
On Oct. 16, 2015, one of his case managers contacted the Concord Police Department, according to an investigative summary prepared by CPD Detective Greg Mahan. The case manager said that she believed Farca may not have been taking his medication and that he “fits the profile of someone that would do a school shooting,”
On April 27, 2012, according to Mahan’s report, Farca’s father contacted the CPD with concerns that his son was becoming “more violent” after he was expelled from school for “grabbing a teacher.” Farca’s father reportedly said “his son was infatuated with war.”
Some of the posts linked to Farca indicate special interest in firearms and military tactics, including a plan to keep his weapon on “semi auto” during a mass shooting so as to not “waste ammo,” and an idea to resupply using ammunition “from the dead officers.”
Police also said Farca assembled an assault weapon himself using a legally purchased firearm frame and accessories purchased from other sources.
In February of this year, Farca purchased an AR-style rifle at the Glaser Arms gun shop in Brentwood, according to Mahan’s investigative summary. In a later interview with J., CPD Lt. Mike Kindorf said that Farca had purchased a firearm “frame” or receiver, which he then modified.
The threatening posts were made on the website Steam, an online network for video game enthusiasts, and came from an account linked to the username “Adolf Hitler (((6 MILLION))).” The FBI said it traced the account to Farca’s Concord home using an IP address.
“I currently own an AR15 semi auto rifle but I can buy/make the auto sear and get the M16 parts kit,” one post said. “What do you think of me doing what [Chabad of Poway shooter] John Earnest tried to do, but with a Nazi uniform, an unregistered and illegally converted machine gun and actually livestreaming it with Nazi music?
“I would probably get a body count of like 30 Kikes and then like 5 police officers because I would also decide to fight to the death.”
Concord police arrested Farca at his home on June 10. The FBI said police officers found a “36 inch sword,” a plastic bag containing ammunition, “paper gun targets (one used and one fresh)” and “books about Hitler youth and Nazi life.”
The maximum penalty for making false statements to the U.S. government is five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.