A Syracuse man admitted he threatened to kill Rep. John Katko and his family if Katko did not support net neutrality, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Patrick D. Angelo, 29, pleaded guilty to interstate communication of a threat. He faces a maximum five years in prison and $250,000 fine.
Katko represents New York’s 24th District. The largest city in the district is Syracuse.
On Oct. 19, Angelo called Katko’s Washington, D.C., office and threatened to kill the congressman and his family if he did not support net neutrality, which is “literally the basis of the new society,” he said.
The U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section collaborated with the FBI on the investigation and traced the phone call back to Angelo’s number.
“Ironically, yet fittingly, by abandoning rational discourse and resorting to threats against a public official, the defendant has essentially rendered himself a mute in the political process,” U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. said in a statement, the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York, reported. “As a democratic republic, we cannot and will not tolerate true threats against those in public office.”
Below is a transcript of the voicemail Angelo left for Katko’s office, first released by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of New York:
“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 … 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- (recording ends).”
Net neutrality refers to the idea that all internet service providers must deliver unfiltered access to all web content without providing preferential treatment to certain files or communications.
Angelo’s sentencing is scheduled for June 21.