Politics

Veteran Who Threatened Rep. Frank LoBiondo, Staff Is Convicted

Defendant was unhappy with VA care

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A veteran with post traumatic stress disorder was convicted in federal court Wednesday on two counts of making threats to New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo and his staffers, according to the Department of Justice.

Over the spring and summer of 2017, Joseph Brodie, 39, of Millville, New Jersey, sought assistance from LoBiondo’s office in receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Brodie “reportedly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury and a seizure disorder,” a federal attorney said in a motion opposing his release on bail earlier this year, the Courier Post reported.

Brodie struggled to access his prescription medication or receive a referral to outside practitioners, the defense argued, court documents accessed through PACER show.

The VA’s “failure to pay the charges incurred,” court documents say, “led to Mr. Brodie to receive bills and ultimately collection notices.”

Brodie’s fiancée at the time told authorities the veteran had been “self-medicating since he got out of the military.”

Brodie has suffered from PTSD since 2003, court documents say, and received care from the VA from January 2011 until his arrest, according to the Courier Post. The prosecution sought to omit information about Brodie’s interactions with the VA from court proceedings, the defense said.

Brodie grew irate with LoBiondo and staff in September 2017.

On Sept. 15, 2017, according to the indictment, Brodie sent an email to an unidentified LoBiondo staffer reading, “F--- you. My next message is a ‘FIX THE VA’ shirt to your family and office.”

Days later, he requested a meeting with the congressman in a call with his chief of staff, but grew angry, and called the staffer a “dead man.”

Brodie sent another email to a staffer reading, “l’d love to have that face to face with the congressman. If not today, that’s fine.”

Brodie attached a Google Maps screenshot of the congressman’s district office, writing, “l’m still acclimating myself to this Google earth App. See where your office is and how easy it is to find? It even shows the environment and surrounding terrain, parking lots, wooded areas, etc., (like the kind a highly trained Combat Infantryman would use)...”

He also sent the message to a Fox News tipline, a copy of the email accessed through PACER shows.

The same day, according to the indictment, Brodie sent a text message to his fiancée reading, “I threaten [sic] the life of a congressman’s chief of staff. I’m pretty sure the secret service are going to investigate. I’m filling the sandbags now to have a bunker by my house. I’m not going down without a fight[.]”

New Jersey State Police troopers arrived at Brodie’s house for a well-being check the next day, the Courier Post reported, where Brodie pointed his unloaded weapon at himself and pulled the trigger three times. Brodie was taken into custody.

A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report this year found a “substantial unmet need” for mental health services among veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The report described a “variability” in the delivery of mental health care across the VA, citing “problems with adequate staffing, physical infrastructure, and providing timely care.”

The conviction in New Jersey follows the sentencing earlier this week of a Louisiana man for making threats to U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins’ office.

Sohail Rana, 50, of Lafayette, Louisiana, will serve 30 months in prison for a July 2017 call in which he told the congressman’s district office that he would kill Higgins, according to the DOJ.

Watch: Who is Robert Wilkie? The Senate Confirms Longtime D.C. Insider to Top VA Post

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