A federal judge sentenced a West Virginia man to three years in prison by for sending intimidating emails to public health chief Anthony Fauci, including threats to kill the US’s top infectious disease official over his handling of the Covid pandemic.
US district judge Paula Xinis in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Thursday sentenced Thomas Connally, 56, of Snowshoe, West Virginia, to 37 months in federal prison and another three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty in May to a federal charge of making threats against a federal official.
In one email, Connally threatened that Fauci and his family would be “dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire,” prosecutors said.
In a plea bargain, Connally admitted he sent threatening emails to Fauci, hoping to intimidate and interfere with his official duties as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and to retaliate against him for his handling of the pandemic, the US attorney’s office in Maryland said in a statement.
The response to the pandemic by federal and state officials has been highly contentious across the US, reigniting a long-standing US battle over the status of individual rights, the constitutional remit of states to police citizens, public health and public activities, such as education or retail businesses.
There was widespread disagreement by supporters and opponents of measures including masking and vaccine mandates to curb the spread of the disease, which has killed more than a million people in the US.
Connally, who accused Fauci of “fearmongering,” was under stress in connection with his mother’s isolation in a nursing home during the pandemic, a public defender wrote in a letter to the court on Wednesday.
Connally admitted to investigators that he had sent a series of threatening emails to Fauci and other state and federal health officials from an anonymous, encrypted email account from December 2020 to July last year.