A New York man pleaded guilty to threatening to kill GOP Rep. John Katko last fall, US Attorney James Kennedy's office announced Tuesday.
The announcement said Patrick D. Angelo, a 28-year-old resident of Syracuse, New York, admitted to making a threat via voice mail about net neutrality, a major regulatory coup by the Obama administration that the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal last year.
Amid the firestorm around the debate over net neutrality, Angelo left the threatening voicemail at Katko's Washington office, the announcement said.
"If you don't support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill ... you ... all," the announcement said Angelo's message went. "I will literally find all ... of ... you and your progeny and t- just wipe you from the face of the earth. Net neutrality is more important than the defense of the United States. Net neutrality is more important than free speech. Net neutrality is more important than health care. Net neutrality is literally the basis of the new society. That even if you don't understand, how important it is, net neutrality is literally the basis of the new ... free ... society."
The announcement said Angelo faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and Kennedy noted in his statement that in the state of New York, felons lose their right to vote.
"Ironically, yet fittingly, by abandoning rational discourse and resorting to threats against a public official, the defendant has essentially rendered himself a mute in the political process," Kennedy said.
Sentencing is scheduled for June.
In the criminal complaint for the case, FBI special agent Melissa Lewis said Katko's office discovered the threatening message last October and reported it to Capitol Police. The resulting investigation matched the number that left the message to Angelo's cellphone, and when agents interviewed Angelo at a McDonald's, he conceded, "I don't know whose office I called, but yeah, I made the call."
"I'm sure they didn't appreciate it," the complaint quoted him as saying.