A central New York man admitted in court Tuesday he threatened to kill a member of Congress over net neutrality.
There’s nothing funny or jokey about this one.
On October 17, Patrick Angelo, 28, of Syracuse allegedly called the Washington, D.C., office of Rep. John Katko, a Republican. Angelo is accused of leaving a voicemail on Katko’s office phone, threatening to kill him and his family if he didn’t support net neutrality.
The message reportedly said “Listen, Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you. But if you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill… you… all. Do you understand?,” according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “I will literally find all… of… you and your progeny and t-(sic) 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. So if you don’t support it, I am willing to lay down my li–“ and then the recording ends.
Given the time frame of this action, Angelo was threatening Katko if the congressman voted to support the proposal from the US Federal Communications Commission to overturn the Obama administration’s regulations, in which internet speeds are not increased or decreased based on service providers or the websites or streaming platforms a user is trying to access, among other items.
Angelo pleaded guilty Tuesday in a federal court in Buffalo and is facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
When he was questioned by federal agents last fall, Angelo said he didn’t know whose office he called but he admitted making the call.
James Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, oversaw the case and pointed out that, with his admission of guilt, Angelo is a felon and, as such, has lost his right to vote.
“Ironically, yet fittingly, by abandoning rational discourse and resorting to threats against an elected official, the defendant has essentially rendered himself a mute in the political process,” Kennedy said. “As a democratic republic, we cannot and will not tolerate true threats against those in public office.”
Angelo is scheduled to be sentenced June 21.
For what it’s worth, if this needs to be said: go ahead disagree with politicans. Dislike their actions, their policies, their stances on important social issues. Protest and use your voice and practice civil disobedience if that’s what you feel compelled to do. But it is never ok to threaten, or carry out, acts of violence against another person, or threaten violence against his or her family, over a disagreement or political differences. That’s just dumb.