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Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Robert Fehring pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert to mailing more than 20 letters threatening to assault, shoot, and bomb LGBTQ+ affiliated individuals, organizations and businesses. When sentenced, Fehring faces up to five years’ imprisonment.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Rodney K. Harrison, Commissioner, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), announced the guilty plea.
“In pleading guilty today, the defendant admits that he sent hate-filled communications that threatened mass shootings, bombings and other fatal attacks, to members of the LGBTQ+ community,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “This Office will use all of its available law enforcement tools to protect the safety and civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community and every other community. We will not tolerate hateful threats intended to invoke fear and division, and we will hold accountable those who make or act on such threats.”
Mr. Peace also expressed his gratitude to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the investigation.
“Today’s guilty plea further highlights Fehring’s intentions, and underscores the FBI’s commitment to vigorously investigating civil rights violations. Anonymous threats against members of our community will eventually be uncovered, and those who are responsible for them will be held accountable,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
“We have absolutely no tolerance for hate incidents of any kind here in Suffolk County and I hope that this guilty plea gives peace of mind to both the victims and the entire LGBTQ+ community,” stated SCPD Commissioner Harrison. “Our department remains laser focused on holding individuals who carry out acts of hate accountable and I thank all of our law enforcement partners who helped bring quick closure to this case.”
As set forth in the court filings and today’s proceeding, from at least 2013 to 2021, Fehring sent letters threatening violence to individuals associated with the LGBTQ+ community. In those letters, Fehring threatened to use firearms and explosives against the recipients. One such letter threatened that there would “be radio-cont[r]olled devices placed at numerous strategic places” at the 2021 New York City Pride March with “firepower” that would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk,” referencing the 2016 attack in which 49 persons were killed and dozens wounded at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Fehring also sent a threatening letter to the owner of a barbershop affiliated with the LGTBQ+ community in Brooklyn, New York, which stated, in part, “your shop is the perfect place for a bombing . . . or beating the scum that frequents your den of [expletive] into a bloody pool of steaming flesh.” Fehring mailed dozens of additional threatening letters to individuals, businesses, and elected officials associated with the LGBTQ+ community.
On November 18, 2021, the FBI’s Civil Rights Squad and the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force executed a search warrant at Fehring’s home in Bayport and recovered copies of letters containing threats, supplies used to mail threatening letters, 20 LGBTQ+ related Pride flags that appeared identical to flags stolen from flagpoles in Sayville in July 2021, and reconnaissance-style photographs from a June 2021 Pride event in East Meadow. Law enforcement officers also recovered electronic devices owned by Fehring that contained internet searches for Fehring’s victims and related LGBTQ+ affiliated individual, events, and businesses. Law enforcement officers also recovered from Fehring’s residence two loaded shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, and a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ+ affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section, Civil Rights Section, and Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Francisco J. Navarro, Rachel A. Shanies, and Andrew P. Wenzel are in charge of the prosecution.
Bayport, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 22-CR-059 (JS)
United States Attorney’s Office