A McHenry man faces federal charges after threatening to kill the U.S. ambassador to Serbia over a visa dispute involving his wife, U.S. Justice Department officials said.
Russell K. Gordon, 48, was arrested Saturday at his McHenry home by special agents of the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service and Federal Bureau of Investigations. Members of the McHenry Police Department, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and Kane County Bomb Squad assisted with the arrest.
According to the criminal complaint affidavit, Gordon, a U.S. citizen, lived in Serbia from 1996 to November 2012. While there, he married a Serbian woman with a child from another man. The Serbian courts awarded the biological father custody of the child in September.
That same month, Gordon sent a threatening email to the U.S. Consulate in Belgrade, Serbia, as well as the former consular chief of that embassy, documents show.
The message described that Gordon believed the embassy and those involved had failed his family, and “As I warned you before, if this is not resolved to our favor, I will play God with Serbian families. … Here or there doesn’t matter; Chicago is a target-rich environment,” the affidavit states.
Special agents then asked the Serbian Ministry of Interior about Gordon and learned he had been granted several temporary stays in Serbia. While there, Gordon had been arrested several times, including a May 2012 arrest for attacking a person with a knife, documents show. He was sentenced to seven months in prison for that offense.
According to records obtained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Gordon traveled from Frankfurt, Germany, to Chicago, where FBI agents then interviewed him.
When asked about the email, he told agents he wrote the email in a fit of rage and had no intention of carrying out the threat, the documents state.
In February, a consular assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade – who gave Gordon her work cellphone number because she was assisting him with an embassy matter related to his family – received a text message from a two-digit number stating, “Loved the welcoming committee when I returned to USA … Hope State isn’t stupid enough to deny visas: I can wreck homes too.”
The next month, two more text messages were sent to the same person from a United Kingdom-based phone number, documents show.
“I’ve little more to live for then wife and son, and if my hand is forced, when I go I will slam the door,” one message read.
The FBI office in Chicago then received an email from a person claiming to be Gordon consistent with previous threats.
Gordon, at his home in McHenry in late March, admitted to special agents that he sent the messages to “intimidate,” and that he had previously plotted to kill the biological father and members of his family, according to the affidavit. He also said he owned a firearm.
On Friday, Gordon’s wife went to the embassy in Belgrade to request a visa into the U.S., and she told officials that Gordon had developed a detailed plan to shoot Serbian citizens in Chicago, including diplomats at places he believed Serbians routinely congregated, the document states. The next day she told officials her husband said he was going to kill the U.S. ambassador, his wife, their two daughters and another employee because they issued her only a two-week visa.
He was arrested without incident Saturday.
If convicted, Gordon faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.