A West Virginia man was sentenced Thursday to three years in federal prison for sending threatening emails to Dr. Anthony Fauci and another federal health official for speaking out about the coronavirus and efforts to prevent its spread.
Using an anonymous email account located in Switzerland, Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr. threatened to kill Fauci or members of his family, the US Department of Justice said in a news release. One of his messages told them to “drag them into the street, beat them to death, and set them on fire.”
Another email said Fauci would be “hunted down, captured, tortured and killed,” according to court records.
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Fauci is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Fauci has been a vocal supporter of vaccines and other preventative measures against COVID-19. Biden has said he plans to retire at the end of his current term.
Another target Dr. Francis Collins was the NIH director at the time of Connally’s threats. The Justice Department said Collins and his family were threatened with physical assault and death if he continued to speak out about the need for “mandatory” COVID-19 vaccinations.
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Connolly admitted to sending threatening emails to Pennsylvania’s then-health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, the Justice Department said. An unidentified public health official in Massachusetts and a religious leader in New Jersey were also threatened.
“Everybody has a right to disagree, but you don’t have the right to threaten the life of a federal official,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Eric L. Barron said in a statement.
US District Judge Paula Ginis sentenced Connall to 37 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Connally most recently lived in Snowshoe, West Virginia.
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He was arrested last summer and pleaded guilty in May to making threats against a federal official.