Baltimore, Maryland – Scott Eli Harris, age 51, of Aubrey, Texas pleaded guilty today to threats transmitted by interstate communication, related to a threatening message sent to a Maryland medical doctor, who publicly advocated for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
“Threats and intimidation should not be tolerated,” said United States Attorney Erek L. Barron. “This office and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and prosecute such conduct.”
“During the pandemic, we have seen a disturbing increase in threats of violence targeting doctors and public health advocates,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Public health officials and doctors deserve our respect for their tireless efforts during the ongoing pandemic, and individuals who seek to use threats of violence to intimidate and silence them will be held accountable.”
“These threats are taken very seriously and the response to them is an example of the FBI’s dedication to keeping our community safe,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “No one should live in fear for doing their job. Posting a threat online, through mail or over the phone is a crime and comes with consequences, whether or not the person intended to carry out the threat.”
According to his plea agreement and statements made in connection with the plea hearing, Harris sent a threatening message from his cellular phone to a Maryland doctor who had been a vocal proponent of the COVID-19 vaccine. Harris’ message included violent statements including “Never going to take your wonder drug. My 12 gauge promises I won’t .… I can’t wait for the shooting to start.” The message also referenced the doctor’s Asian-American race and national origin.
Harris faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for April 21, 2022.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke commended the FBI for their work in the investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney P. Michael Cunningham and Trial Attorney Katherine DeVar of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, who are prosecuting the federal case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/civil-rights and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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