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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 14, 2018

Jury finds man guilty of sending threatening tweets to Sen. Joni Ernst

Joseph Dierks faces up to 15 years in federal prison
By Trish Mehaffey, The Gazette | Nov 24, 2017

CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal jury on Wednesday found a Waterloo man guilty of sending threatening tweets to U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in August.

The jury deliberated more than four hours before reaching its verdict, which followed a one-day trial that took place Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Joseph Dierks, 34, was found guilty of three counts of transmitting a communication containing a threat in interstate commerce.

Testimony showed Dierks admitted to sending the tweets that use expletives and threaten physical harm to Ernst. Dierks told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and a Waterloo police officer that the three tweets sent to one of Ernst’s Twitter accounts on Aug. 16 could be “perceived as threatening,” according to testimony. Dierks told the authorities he was attempting to get the senator’s attention because he wanted to join the military but because of his age, he would need a waiver from a high ranked officer. Ernst is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.

Christopher Nathan, Dierks’ lawyer, during his opening statement said his client may have sent offensive tweets, but he never intended them to be threatening. Dierks didn’t know they would be viewed that way, he added. Dierks faces up to five years on each charge. Sentencing before U.S. District Senior Judge Linda Reade hasn’t been set at this time.

Dierks will remain in jail pending sentencing.

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