A Syracuse man is facing federal charges after allegedly calling U.S. Rep. John Katko's office and threatening to kill the congressman and his family.
Patrick D. Angelo, 28, has been charged with interstate communication of a threat and threatening a federal official. He appeared in federal court Wednesday and is being held pending a detention hearing Friday.
The charges stem from a phone call Angelo allegedly made on Oct. 19 to Katko's Washington office. According to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's office, Angelo left a voicemail message and threatened to kill Katko and his family if the congressman didn't support net neutrality.
Prosecutors provided the text of the message in the complaint against Angelo.
"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?" the caller said. "I will literally find all ... of ... you and your progeny and t- just wipe you from the face of the earth.
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The message continues, "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 message abruptly ended because the recording stopped.
After receiving Angelo's message, Katko's office reported it to U.S. Capitol Police. The agency coordinated with the FBI to investigate the call, which was found to have originated from Angelo.
"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 Kennedy.
If convicted, Angelo faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Erin O'Connor, Katko's spokesperson, released a statement praising law enforcement's response to the death threat.
"All threats are reported to the U.S. Capitol Police in order to ensure the safety of Rep. Katko, his family and staff," she said. "The Congressman and his family appreciate the diligent work of our local, state and federal law enforcement in monitoring these threats and taking appropriate action."