The Florida Department of Justice has sentenced a California man who threatened to kill Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
Eugene Huelsman, 59, of Thousand Oaks, was found guilty of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce and sentenced to six months of house arrest, announced Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of the Florida Department of Justice. Thursday.
“The free exercise of speech is central to our democracy. However, the communication of threats of physical violence, in this case by someone who has previously made and been investigated for similar threats of violence, is clearly illegal,” Coody said.
“With our law enforcement partners, we are committed to protecting public safety for all citizens,” he said.
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FBI Jacksonville Division Special Agent in Charge Sherry E. Onks said there are limits to a person’s free speech and threats to a person’s life or well-being.
“Everyone has the right to express their opinion, but when you harass, intimidate and threaten violence against others, it is a federal crime that will not be tolerated,” Onks said in a Justice Department release.
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An FBI agent said the sentence should “serve as a warning” to others who might try to intimidate lawmakers with whom they disagree politically.
“Words matter and this sentence serves as a warning,” she added. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will work to hold you accountable.”
On January 9, 2021, Huelsman left a profanity-laced voicemail at the phone number of Gaetz’s congressional district office in Pensacola, Florida, containing death threats, on January 9, 2021.
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“Today’s sentence acknowledges the defendant’s repeated threats of violence and serves as an important deterrent to those who threaten violence against others without engaging in legitimate discussion,” Coody continued.
In the message, Huelsman said he was “going to put a bullet” in Gaetz and his family. He also said he was coming for a member of Congress, the Florida Department of Justice said.
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Gaetz’s office contacted the United States Capitol Police, and a subsequent investigation found that Huelsman had left the messages — and it wasn’t his first time doing so.
In addition to house arrest, Huelsman will serve five years of probation and pay a $10,000 fine.