News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Defendant Left Expletive Laden, Threatening Voice Mail Messages Following Tax Cut Debate

August 12, 2011

            CHARLES TURNER HABERMANN, 33, of Palm Springs, California, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 8 months in prison, three years of supervised release and more than $54,000 in fines for threatening a federal official.  HABERMANN was arrested in January and was indicted for two expletive laden, threatening phone calls he made to the Seattle office of Congressman Jim McDermott on December 9, 2010.  At the sentencing hearing, Judge James L. Robart read from the transcripts of the threatening calls and said there is no question the conduct was threatening and crossed the line of protected free speech.  At sentencing Judge Robart said,  “Contrary to Mr. Habermann’s beliefs and his conduct, the law does apply to him.  And when you break the law, there are consequences that parents, trust funds and hired therapists cannot solve.”

            “Violence, and threats of violence, are meant to silence debate.  They have no place in our political discourse,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “Regardless of what positions they take on the issues, public officials and the people who work for them, should not have to fear that they are putting their lives in danger simply by going to work and doing their jobs.”

            According to the facts in the plea agreement, HABERMANN made multiple threatening calls.  In the first call recorded on the office answering system, HABERMANN threatens to kill Congressman McDermott, his friends and family.  In the second call HABERMANN says he will hire someone to put Congressman McDermott “in the trash.”  HABERMANN was interviewed by the FBI on December 10, 2010, regarding the calls to Congressman McDermott, and another threatening call made to a another member of Congress.  In the voice mail messages HABERMANN stated he had seen Congressman McDermott on television.  In the messages he disparages and threatens Congressman McDermott and other elected officials for their views on tax cuts and unemployment insurance.  On the voice mail messages HABERMANN threatens to kill Congressman McDermott in an effort to impede, intimidate and interfere with his vote on the tax cut proposal in December 2010.

            HABERMANN was investigated in March 2010, for similar conduct involving threats to a California Assembly Person.  HABERMANN was interviewed by the California Highway Patrol, and was issued a warning about his threatening conduct.

            Judge Robart imposed a $25,000 fine, and then imposed a second fine of $29,590.96 to pay the costs of HABERMANN’s incarceration.  The judge said it was appropriate that taxpayers should not have to bear additional costs because of HABERMANN’s incarceration.

            The case was investigated by the FBI.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mike Dion.

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