MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced today a federal criminal complaint charging Devonere Johnson, 28, with extortion in connection with threats made to Madison businesses this week. Johnson, who was arrested on state charges earlier this week, will make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison on a date and time to be determined.
The complaint charges Johnson with attempting to obtain money and property by consent induced by the threatened use of force, violence, and fear.
The complaint alleges that on June 22, Johnson threated that the windows of a business would be destroyed unless a person associated with the business made a payment to Johnson’s Venmo account. The second count of the complaint alleges that on June 22, Johnson threatened to shut down and destroy a second business unless Johnson and his associates were provided free food and beverages.
“Those who attempt to take advantage of recent events to extort local businesses under the guise of community activism will be vigorously prosecuted,” said U.S. Attorney Blader. “All citizens have a right to feel safe within their communities. Extortion is not activism, it is a crime and it will not be tolerated.”
If convicted, Johnson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each count. The charges against Johnson are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Madison Police Department.
You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.