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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Texas Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Threatening a Medical Doctor Who Advocated for the Covid-19 Vaccine

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III sentenced Scott Eli Harris, age 52, of Aubrey, Texas, yesterday to six months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for sending a threatening message to a Maryland medical doctor who publicly advocated for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The sentence 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.

“While we are all entitled to our own opinion, no one has the right to threaten the life of someone because of race, national origin, or because of holding different views,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron.  “Threats like these will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” 

“Threats of violence, especially those driven by racial animus and misguided beliefs concerning the COVID-19 pandemic will not be tolerated,” said Assistant Attorney General Clarke. “Members of our Asian American Pacific Islander communities should never have to live in fear of violence because of their race or national origin.”

“Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to those who threaten or take violent action based on belief or ideology and breaks the law, that the FBI will enforce the rule of law,” said Special Agent in Charge, Thomas J. Sobocinski.  

According to his plea agreement and statements made in connection with the sentencing 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.

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 prosecuted 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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Topic(s): 
Coronavirus
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Alexis Abbott (301) 344-4342
Updated August 24, 2022