Stephen J. Taubert, 61, was found guilty in March on three felony counts for placing menacing phone calls to two congressional offices and for targeting black Democratic leaders Obama and Waters.
Taubert was sentenced to 46 months in prison, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported.
Taubert used racial slurs when he called Waters’ local congressional office in July 2018. He said he would attend every one of the California Democrat’s public events, threatening to kill her and every member of her staff, according to prosecutors. In an interview with local officers and a U.S. Capitol Police agent in August, Taubert described the purpose of his call: to tell Waters she was a “low-IQ n —— r,” according to the news site.
A year earlier, he called the office of then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, threatening to “hang” then-President Obama.
U.S. District Court Judge Glenn Suddaby resisted calls for leniency made by Taubert’s attorney and family, who asked that Taubert be sentenced to home detention and probation.
“They claim he’d never hurt anybody,” Suddaby said in court, according to the Post-Standard. “Mr. Taubert, you’ve repeatedly hurt people with your words.”
Taubert’s history of violent threats dates back to 2013, when he threatened to burn down the NAACP office in Baltimore.
During the three-day March trial, prosecutors played a recording of an interview between a Capitol Police officer and Taubert after his arrest. Taubert called the officer a “n —— boy” more than 30 times, according to the Post-Standard.
Taubert’s 46-month sentence falls within federal guidelines, which suggest a sentence of roughly three to five years behind bars.
But Taubert’s attorney, a public defender, urged the judge to consider her client’s medical conditions, which include a history of aneurysm and spinal cord damage. Taubert receives treatment for high blood pressure and epilepsy, has suffered from mini-strokes and undergone heart surgery.
In letters to the court, family and neighbors described Taubert as a generous family man with serious health challenges.
“I fear that an extended incarceration will essentially amount to a death penalty,” Taubert’s nephew wrote.
Taubert said during the sentencing hearing that he was provoked by criticisms of President Donald Trump online.
“Probably the worst thing for me is social media,” Taubert said. “I should stay off of it. When I hear all these people knocking the president, it upsets me.”
Taubert said he never intended to take action on the threats he made in those intimidating calls.
“I’m sorry for the offensive language. That’s all it was,” Taubert said.
The threat made last summer against Waters coincides with a period of heightened criticism of the congresswoman among conservatives and the far-right. Some supporters of Trump opposed Waters’ call for activists upset about the White House’s child separation policy at the border to confront administration officials in public places.
The date Taubert called the congresswoman’s local office — July 20, 2018 — falls one day after a planned protest there by the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia founded soon after former Obama’s inauguration.
Waters called for caution by her supporters ahead of the show of force, citing what she described as the group’s “history of engaging in violent and provocative behavior.”
“The Oath Keepers would like nothing more than to inflame racial tensions and create an explosive conflict in our community,” Waters wrote in a Facebook post.