With felony charges against Ross Farca still pending in Contra Costa County, a federal judge on Thursday sentenced the 24-year-old to time served — about six months in county jail — for the federal crime of lying to the U.S. government.
The Concord resident, who police say threatened on a gaming website to commit a mass shooting against Jews last June, will now be transferred to state custody in Contra Costa County, where he faces two felony weapons charges and one for making criminal threats.
Farca has attracted close, nervous attention from the Bay Area Jewish community since his arrest last year on allegations he threatened a Poway-style mass shooting against Jews on the platform Steam, and purchased a firearm frame that he modified into an illegal assault rifle. Police in Concord, where Farca lives with his mother, say a search of the home turned up the assault-style weapon, ammunition, 13-high capacity magazines, camouflage clothing and Nazi literature.
In online posts Farca showed a fascination with Nazism and the Third Reich, and used the screen name “Adolf Hitler ((((6 MILLION))).” He also expressed admiration for shooters in massacres targeting Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Jews in Poway, California.
Police say the home search last summer also turned up discharge papers from the Army, which Farca joined briefly in 2017. His enlistment, which later was called “erroneous,” followed his lying about his mental health history at a recruitment center in Mountain View. He pled guilty to that federal crime on April 9.
In an approximately 80-minute conference call during the sentencing hearing on Thursday, Judge Tigar said he found that six months in jail was enough for the lying crime, even as he acknowledged that the pending allegations in Contra Costa County were “looming” over the proceedings. Twenty people were present on the call, including a local representative from the Anti-Defamation League. Members of the Jewish community submitted victim statements, filed under seal.
“I know that many of the persons who are listening to today’s proceedings were affected by that case, and by the facts of that case,” Tigar said of the charges in Contra Costa County. “That case is unquestionably serious, and I think it will have an effect on the conditions of supervised release that I impose.
“But at the same time I need to be clear that I can’t sentence him for that case today,” he continued. “Today I need to sentence him for the crime that he actually committed, when he lied on his form to the Army.”
At the heart of Tigar’s sentencing decision was his view that prosecutors did not prove that Farca’s crime caused a loss to the Army exceeding $40,000, which would have bumped up sentencing guidelines from 0-6 months to 6-12. Instead, Tigar sided with the defense on the question of financial loss, ordering restitution of $17,832 to be paid in monthly installments of $250.
Farca will remain on supervised release for three years. Among the conditions of his release are that he may not use a computer or electronic device that does not have monitoring software installed on it, and that his activities are subject to review by probation officers at any time, for any reason.
Hours after the hearing, a spokesperson for the Contra Costa district attorney’s office said Farca remained in custody at Santa Rita Jail, but a transfer of custody was in process.
“We are working with law enforcement there to ensure we can take him into custody per his bench warrant,” Scott Alonso, public information officer for the DA’s office, wrote in an email to J.
Farca’s attorneys said that their client has numerous psychological disorders including autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and that he was suffering greatly at Santa Rita Jail during the pandemic. A motion they filed for his early release was denied on April 2, just weeks before a coronavirus outbreak with more than 30 cases struck the Dublin jail.
Tigar said the pandemic was a factor he considered in issuing the sentence.
“Because of Mr. Farca’s Asperger’s syndrome, his obsessive-compulsive disorder and his misophonia, he has suffered more in prison during the last six months than another inmate would have,” the judge said.
The defendant was given the opportunity to speak during the hearing. Sitting in jail with a corrections officer, Farca delivered what sounded like a prepared apology, though his words came with an echo and were choppy and sometimes difficult to make out. Tigar asked that for clarity, the full statement be submitted in writing.
Farca, who lived in Romania until he was 3 and whose struggles learning English are documented in court filings, spoke with a thick accent reminiscent of the Transatlantic manner of speech prevalent in the 1930s and ’40s.
“I am aware that I have committed a major crime when I lied on the SF-86,” Farca said, referring to the Army’s background-check application. “I have thought about it every day, and I want to make it abundantly clear that I am sorry. I am remorseful, and I will never commit a false statement again.”
The ADL expressed gratitude to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and to the FBI, which first learned of the online threats and relayed the tip to local police.
“ADL appreciates the tremendous efforts of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in successfully pursuing a felony charge against Ross Farca and keeping the Jewish community safe,” said the emailed statement from ADL regional director Nancy J. Appel.
“Farca allegedly expressed murderous hatred of Jews publicly and unequivocally, causing significant trepidation among many community members. We look forward to the resumption of the state case against him on criminal threats and illegal weapons charges. Paramount for ADL is the safety and security of the local Jewish community.”
Farca was charged with three felonies in Contra Costa County, including the two illegal weapons charges and one for making criminal threats. Manufacturing an assault weapon in California is punishable by up to eight years in prison.