A man has been charged with threatening President Joe Biden’s chief medial adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland has announced.
Thomas Patrick Connally Jr., 56, was charged with threats against a federal official and interstate communication containing a threat to harm after he allegedly used an email account from a provider of secure, encrypted email services based in Switzerland to send a series of emails threatening harm to the two officials from Dec. 28, 2020 to July 21, 2021.
One of the emails, for example, threatened that Fauci and his family would be "dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire."
If convicted, Connally faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for threats against a federal official and a maximum of five years in federal prison for interstate communication containing a threat to harm.
His first appearance at the U.S. district court in Greenbelt, Maryland, is expected to take place Wednesday.
According to charging documents, it is unclear where Connally resides, but he was arrested in West Virginia, CBS Baltimore reported.
"We will never tolerate violent threats against public officials," said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner. "Our public health officials deserve our thanks and appreciation for their tireless work, and we will not hesitate to bring charges against those individuals who seek to use fear to silence these public servants."
Connally also allegedly used the email account to communicate with another individual about Fauci and espouse views that he was engaged in fraud regarding HIV and AIDS, which was also one of the topics of the first threatening email sent from the encrypted account to Fauci this past December, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland.
Fauci has talked about the death threats he and members of his family have received during the coronavirus pandemic, telling CNN last August that "I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that people who object to things that are pure public health principles are so set against it and don’t like what you and I say, namely in the world of science, that they actually threaten you."
The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began providing "protective operations" around Fauci in March last year as "a growing number of threats" were directed at him, CNN reported.
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