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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 18, 2020

San Bernardino County Man Who Made Threats to Injure Congressional Staffers and Intern Sentenced to One Year in Prison

          LOS ANGELES – A Twentynine Palms man was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in federal prison for making harassing telephone calls to government offices and for threatening to injure congressional staffers and an intern who answered the calls.

          Robert Eric Stahlnecker, 48, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.

          At a two-day trial in February, a federal jury found Stahlnecker guilty of one count of making threats by interstate commerce and five counts of anonymous telecommunications harassment. The jury acquitted him of two counts of threatening federal employees.

          According to the evidence presented at trial, on September 26, 2019, Stahlnecker made eight telephone calls within a seven-minute span to the Washington, D.C., office of Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. During the calls, Stahlnecker berated the intern who answered the call, insulted the intern by using vulgar language and, finally, threatened to come to the senator’s office to kill her.

          Between September and November 2019, Stahlnecker made multiple abusive telephone calls to staff members and interns of multiple members of Congress. Stahlnecker made more than 10,000 calls to government agencies and elected officials between January and November of last year, according to court documents. More than half of defendant’s telephone calls in 2019 were to the Veterans Affairs complaint line (3,600 calls) and the two United States senators from California (2,500 calls), court papers state.

          Stahlnecker has been in federal custody since his arrest in this case in December 2019.

          “Since 2007…Stahlnecker has been convicted five times for verbally abusing and threatening government employees,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. “The convictions in this case represent a small fraction of defendant’s decade-long campaign to abuse and threaten government employees.”

          The United States Capitol Police and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General investigated this case.    

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Peter H. Dahlquist and Robert S. Trisotto of the Riverside Branch Office.

Contact: 
Ciaran McEvoy Public Information Officer United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) (213) 894-4465
Press Release Number: 
20-101
Updated June 18, 2020