USA v. Joseph, Christopher Raymond
Tampa Bay, FL

Hate Crime

Christopher Raymond Joseph, a Florida college student, was arrested Thursday for allegedly attempting to conceal online chats he had with a New Jersey man facing federal charges for allegedly plotting a series of synagogue attacks. Joseph, an 18-year-old student at the University of South Florida (USF), now faces one count of altering or destroying records in a federal investigation. Of his apparent online persona, Joseph told the FBI he was just "LARPing," or "live action role playing," as a terrorist. Joseph's troubles stem from an interview he had with the FBI in November, during which agents say they saw him delete messages he had exchanged on his phone with Omar Alkattoul, also 18, who was arrested last month on suspicion of planning attacks in his home state, New Jersey. In their conversations online, Alkattoul told Joseph that he had been in touch with members of Al Qaeda and discussed potential attacks against a synagogue or gay club, according to the complaint. In August 2023, Joseph pleaded guilty to destroying records with the intent to impede or obstruct a federal investigation. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

(Related case: US v. Alkattoul)