GREENBELT, Md. (AP) – A man was arrested and charged in federal court for sending emails Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, and their families, Maryland federal prosecutors, threatened to harm and kill, announced Tuesday.
A criminal complaint filed Monday accuses Thomas Patrick Connally Jr., 56, of threats against a federal official and interstate communications that include a threat of harm.
From December through last week, Connally used a Switzerland-based encrypted email service to send a series of emails to Collins and Fauci, according to an affidavit that was filed with the complaint.
Fauci is the senior medical advisor to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. He was appointed to his post in 1984, but his visibility has increased amid the coronavirus pandemic. He is a vocal advocate of vaccines and other preventive measures against COVID-19 and has been recognized for his leadership in the fight against HIV / AIDS.
An email threatened that Fauci and his family would be “dragged onto the street, beaten to death and set on fire.”
On April 24th, Collins received four emails from Connally’s encrypted address, and 30 minutes later, Fauci received a series of seven threatening emails every few minutes, according to an affidavit. One of these emails threatened that Fauci would be “hunted, captured, tortured and killed”.
The complaint was unsealed on Tuesday after Connally’s arrest. He was arrested in West Virginia, said the US Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Marcia Murphy. It is unclear where he lives.
Connally is set to appear in the US District Court in Greenbelt for the first time on Wednesday. Online court records don’t list a lawyer for him.
“We will never tolerate violent threats against public officials,” said incumbent US attorney Jonathan Lenzner in a press release. “Our health officials deserve our thanks and appreciation for their tireless work, and we will not hesitate to bring charges against anyone who tries to silence these officials with fear.”
If convicted, Connally faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for threatening a federal officer and a maximum of five years in federal prison for interstate communications with impending injury.
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