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Justice News

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

Friday, December 6, 2019

Twentynine Palms Man Arrested on Criminal Complaint Alleging He Made Death Threats to a Congressional Staffer and Intern

          RIVERSIDE, California – A San Bernardino County man was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint alleging he made more than 10,000 harassing telephone calls this year to government offices and made death threats against a congressional staffer and an intern who answered the calls.

          Robert Stahlnecker, 48, of Twentynine Palms, was arrested at his residence on charges of threatening federal officers and employees, interstate communications with threat to injure a person, and anonymous telecommunications harassment. He made his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside and remains in federal custody. His arraignment is scheduled for December 26.

          On August 28, Stahlnecker called a congresswoman’s office in San Mateo, California three times within a span of five minutes, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint that was unsealed today. During the calls, Stahlnecker allegedly berated the intern who answered the call, using vulgar language to insult her, and finally, threatened to come to the congresswoman’s office to kill her.

          On September 26, Stahlnecker allegedly made eight telephone calls within a seven-minute span to the Washington, D.C., office of a U.S. Senator from Ohio. During the calls, Stahlnecker allegedly 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.

          Stahlnecker has made more than 10,000 calls to government agencies and elected officials between January and November of this year, the affidavit states.

          U.S. Capitol Police has been investigating Stahlnecker since at least 2009, opening 41 investigations into threatening or harassing telephone calls he has made involving 53 different elected officials. Stahlnecker has criminal convictions for harassment in New Jersey and making terroristic threats with intent to terrorize in Pennsylvania, according to the criminal complaint. In 2015, he was convicted in in federal court in Riverside of impeding the operations of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by making thousands of telephone calls to the VA – including its suicide prevention line – but that conviction was later overturned on appeal.

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

          This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter Dahlquist of the Riverside Branch Office.

Ciaran McEvoy Public Information Officer United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) (213) 894-4465
Press Release Number: 
Updated February 5, 2020