Joseph Francis Morelli of New York has pleaded guilty Thursday to threatening Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., over three voicemails to her Washington, D.C., office phone last March, The Hill reported.
Court documents quoted the calls from Morelli, according to the report.
"I really think I'm gonna have to cause you harm — physical harm," he said at 11:11 p.m. ET on March 3.
"l'm gonna have to take your life into my own hands," he added. "I'm gonna hurt you. Physically, I'm gonna harm you."
Seven minutes later Morelli called back to leave a second threatening message in which he said he would "pay someone 500 bucks to take a baseball bat and crack your skull."
Six minutes after that (11:24 p.m. ET), Morelli said he was going to "make sure that, even if they lock me up, someone's gonna get you, 'cause I'll pay them to."
Morelli will be sentenced June 1 and faces up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine, according to the report.
U.S. Capitol Police keep track of the incidents in which lawmakers were threatened, according to data released in January:
- 7,501 in 2022.
- 9,625 in 2021.
- 8,613 in 2020.
"The threats against Members of Congress are still too high," Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger wrote in a press release. "This has resulted in a necessary expansion of, not only our investigative capabilities, but our protection responsibilities as well.
"While that work is ongoing, everyone continuing to decrease violent political rhetoric across the country is the best way to keep everyone safe."
Social media vitriol and political division have only made it more common for threats to be made against members of Congress, U.S. Capitol Police consulting psychologist Dr. Mario Scalora said.
"Overall, during the last couple of decades the Threat Assessment Section's caseload has increased because people on social media have a false sense of anonymity and feel more emboldened," Scalora wrote in a statement. "This is not a problem we can only arrest our way out of."
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