florida man sentenced for sending interstate threatening communications to cEO of U.S. anti-Doping Agency
DENVER – Gerrit Kuechle Keats, age 72, of Clearwater, Florida, was sentenced this afternoon by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson to serve 3 years’ probation for sending threatening communications via email to the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, U.S. Attorney John Walsh and FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle announced. In addition, Judge Jackson ordered Keats to pay a $5,000 fine and serve at least 540 hours of community service throughout probation. Keats was also ordered to undergo psychological treatment.
Keats was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 10, 2013. He pled guilty before Judge Jackson on October 7, 2013. He was sentenced today, January 23, 2014.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had been investigating allegations that cyclist Lance Armstrong had achieved his prodigious record by cheating; by “doping” and using drugs and other improper means to win. As the investigation heated up in the summer of 2012, Chief Executive Officer of USADA, Travis Tygart, received a barrage of negative public comment, mostly via emails, about USADA’s investigation. In August 2012, it was anticipated that USADA would announce its findings, including that Lance Armstrong would banned from cycling for life. On August 23, 2012, Lance Armstrong released a press statement that he would not challenge USADA’s findings. The negative emails intensified. On August 24, 2012, USADA, as predicted, made the announcement that Lance Armstrong would be banned from cycling for life and disqualified of all his competitive results from August 1, 1998, through August 24, 2012. This disqualification included being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
Among the members of the public who were angry over USADA’s methods and conclusions was the defendant, Keats. On October 24, 2012, Keats made threats to Tygart and his family. The email read, in part: “ . . . Travis Tygart is a f*&#ing pig who should be nailed to a tree and skinned while he watches his toady staff and filthy children being castrated.” The threatening email further said: “The greatest service I could do to mankind is kill that f*&#ing pig.”
As a result of the threatening emails, Mr. Tygart hired private security for himself and his family, and moved his family to a secure location while the FBI investigated the source of the threat.
In an unrelated case, Robert Hutchins of Sandy, Utah, pled guilty on November 4, 2013 to sending threatening communications over the internet to Mr. Tygart for similar reasons. Hutchins is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Court Marcia S. Krieger on February 10, 2014.
“When someone, such as the defendant, uses email to send a threat, the recipient has no way of knowing if the threat is real, resulting in severe stress,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Emailed threats are not anonymous. Law enforcement has the tools to determine who sent them, and will act to hold those responsible accountable.”
"Today's decision reaffirms the FBI's vigilance to pursue those who hide behind a computer and make death threats," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas P. Ravenelle.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Valeria Spencer.