A Richmond man charged with making threats to Muslims took a plea deal in his case last week, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
As part of the agreement, 55-year-old William Celli in a Richmond courtroom last Friday admitted to a charge that he attempted to violate the free exercise of civil rights, Deputy District Attorney Kristen Busby said.
He received three years of probation and a 90-day county jail sentence, Busby said. The plea deal dropped the charge of making criminal threats with a hate crime enhancement he also faced.
Celli was arrested Dec. 20, several days after police received a report that he yelled “I’m going to kill you all” outside the Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County.
Detectives served a search warrant at Celli’s home in the 5100 block of McBryde Avenue and a bomb squad had to be called in when a suspicious device was found.
The area around his home was evacuated because of the possible explosive, police said. It was safely detonated before that evacuation order was lifted.
The mosque where he allegedly made threats has since hired private security guards for protection, officials from the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a news release Wednesday.
The local Muslim advocacy organization’s executive director, Zahra Billoo, cheered the jail time Celli was sentenced to and expressed appreciation for the support of law enforcement.
“At a time when attacks on mosques and Muslim individuals are at an all-time high, this will send a message that such actions will have consequences,” Billoo said in a statement.
Billoo admonished “the wake of hateful rhetoric by multiple presidential candidates” leading up to the incident and pointed to Celli’s support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In Facebook posts, Celli wrote that he would follow Trump to “the end of the world.” Among other political tirades on his Facebook feed, Celli spoke of an influx of Muslims to the U.S., saying, “Kiss your Christian asses good bye. And all other non-believers of the Koran.” Busby said one of the terms included in the negotiated agreement is that Celli is not allowed to have an active Facebook page for a period of time.
He also has to continue attending anger management courses and has certain criminal protection orders placed on him, Busby said.