A federal judge has sentenced a West Virginia man to three years in prison for sending harassing emails to public health chief Anthony Fauci, including threats to kill the top US infectious disease official for his handling of the Covid pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis in Greenbelt, Maryland, Thursday sentenced Thomas Connally, 56, of Snowshoe, West Virginia, to 37 months in prison and an additional three years of supervised release after pleading guilty in May to a federal charge of assault. making threats against a federal official.
In one email, Connally threatened that Fauci and his family would “be dragged onto the street, beaten to death and set on fire,” prosecutors said.
In a plea deal, Connally admitted to sending threatening emails to Fauci, hoping to intimidate and interfere with his official duties as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and to retaliate against him for his approach. of the pandemic. Maryland said in a statement.
Response to the pandemic by federal and state officials has been highly contentious in the U.S., rekindling a protracted U.S. battle over the status of individual rights, states’ constitutional mandates to police citizens, public health, and public activities such as education or retail affairs. .
There was widespread disagreement between proponents 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 “anxiety,” was under stress over 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 from December 2020 to July last year, he sent a series of threatening emails to Fauci and other state and federal health officials from an anonymous, encrypted email account.