John Rayne Rivello Arrested for Alleged Cyberstalking with
Seizure Causing GIF
March 21, 2017
A Maryland man was arrested today on a federal criminal
complaint charging him with cyberstalking a Dallas, Texas
John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Salisbury, Maryland, was arrested in
Maryland on a criminal complaint filed in the Northern District
of Texas. The complaint was unsealed today following his initial
appearance in the District of Maryland.
According to the allegations in the affidavit filed with the
complaint, on Dec. 15, 2016, the victim Newsweek reporter Kurt
Eichenwald, who is known to suffer from epilepsy, received a
message via Twitter from Rivello. The tweet contained an
animated strobe image embedded with the statement, “You deserve
a seizure for your post.” Upon viewing the flashing strobe image
the victim immediately suffered a seizure.
Additionally, according to the affidavit, evidence received
pursuant to a search warrant showed Rivello’s Twitter account
contained direct messages from Rivello’s account to other
Twitter users concerning the victim. Among those direct messages
included statements by Rivello, including “I hope this sends him
into a seizure,” “Spammed this at [victim] let’s see if he
dies,” and “I know he has epilepsy.” Additional evidence
received pursuant to a search warrant showed Rivello’s iCloud
account contained a screenshot of a Wikipedia page for the
victim, which had been altered to show a fake obituary with the
date of death listed as Dec. 16, 2016. Rivello’s iCloud account
also contained screen shots from epilepsy.com with a list of
commonly reported epilepsy seizure triggers and from
dallasobserver.com discussing the victim’s report to the Dallas
Police Department and his attempt to identify the Twitter user.
charges contained in a criminal complaint are merely
accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.
The FBI and the Dallas Police Department investigated the case.
The Maryland State Police and Ocean City Police Department
assisted during the arrest. Assistant U.S. Attorney C.S. Heath
of the Northern District of Texas and Aaron Cooper of the
Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property
Section are prosecuting the case.