Laramie Man Charged With Threatening to Kill U.S. Senators, Other Lawmakers
A Laramie man has been charged in federal court with seven counts of threatening to kill members of Congress and a Wyoming state senator, according to the indictment unsealed on Friday.
Christopher Kent Podlesnik on Jan. 28 left voicemail messages threatening Republican Wyoming U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Wyoming Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Laramie and Goshen counties, according to the indictment.
The threats to the lawmakers were similar to the one he left on a voicemail to Gaetz: "I'm not going to [expletive] ask you why you [expletive] think you should be killed, I'm just going to [expletive] put two in your head."
The specific charge is “transmitting threats in interstate commerce.”
If convicted, Podlesnik faces up to five years imprisonment on each count, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised probation after release from custody.
He was arrested Thursday and heard the charges during his initial appearance on Friday by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman.
Podlesnik, 51, is in custody and his arraignment and detention hearing is scheduled on Tuesday before Carman.
The Wyoming U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion to detain him because he is accused of a crime of violence and there are no conditions of release that would assure the safety of people and the community.
In a prepared statement, Acting Wyoming U.S. Attorney Bob Murray said Americans cherish the freedoms in the Bill of Rights, including the freedom of speech.
“However, true threats of violence are not protected by the Constitution,” Murray said. “Working with the FBI and other partners, the United States Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate such threats and seek charges in appropriate cases.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider likewise said the FBI is committed to protect civil liberties, but it also will investigate speech that threatens violence and physical harm to others.
Murray added every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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