Federal authorities are charging a man for threatening to kill Republican Rep. John Katko over the issue of net neutrality, an amorphous concept dealing with internet regulations imposed under the Obama administration.
Patrick Angelo, a 28 year old from Syracuse, called Katko’s office in October and left a highly intimidating, and violent voicemail, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office released the legal complaint, and included the message allegedly left by Angelo, which reads:
Listen Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you. But if you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill…you…all. Do you understand? … I will literally find all…of…you and your progeny and t- just wipe you from the face of the earth. Net neutrality is more important than the defense of the United States. Net neutrality is more important than free speech. Net neutrality is more important than health care. Net neutrality is literally the basis of the new society. That even if you don’t understand, how important it is, net neutrality is literally the basis of the new…free…society. So if you don’t support it, I am willing to lay down my li-.
The recording cut off, but not until after the terrorizing remarks were made.
Worried, Katko’s staff contacted the FBI. Agents for the federal law enforcement agency tracked down Angelo and arranged a meeting through a phone call to the number used to make the threat.
Originally, Angelo rejected the idea that he was behind the phone call, but he eventually admitted to making a call in general. He added that he didn’t know the recipient.
“I used strong language, probably something that could be construed as a threat,” Angelo told authorities, according to New York Upstate news. “I’m sure they didn’t appreciate it.”
Angelo could face a maximum fine of $250,000, 10 years in prison, or both, due to his alleged threat to kill a U.S. congressman and other charges.
Security for Katko has been vamped up due to the threat.
“While citizens are certainly entitled to communicate their views on issues of importance to them to their elected officials, there are and must be bounds to the manner in which such views may be expressed,” said U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. “We will respond aggressively to those who overstep those bounds and seek to influence the making of Federal policies and legislation by making threats to the lives of those entrusted with such tasks and their families.”
The debate around net neutrality, specifically the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to undo government’s control over portions of the internet, has been a hot-button and highly heated issue. People across the internet have directed a number of extremely vile, and even racist comments toward Pai in recent weeks, including direct mentions of his children.
While some of the people who posted such content on Twitter don’t have many followers, the conduct is in some ways representative of a larger grassroots movement.
And more activists — who aren’t necessarily part of the same loose coalition, but are certainly part of the same side of the debate — left cardboard signs outside Pai’s home Saturday. The inscribed posters not only included the exact names of Pai’s children, but also asked the chairman if his kin will ever be able “to look you in the eye again.”
“They will come to know the truth. Dad murdered democracy in cold blood,” another adjacent sign read. “And for what?! It’s not too late for you, Chairman Pai. You don’t have to be evil.”
It’s not clear, though, if Pai’s security detail has been reinforced due to these threats.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms any attempts to intimidate government officials with violent threats, and in particular, efforts to target their families,” Pai said in a statement obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I would also like to express my sympathy to Congressman Katko and his family and thank law enforcement officials for taking this matter seriously.”
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