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Press Release

Jury Convicts Syracuse Man For Threatening to Kill Former President Barack Obama and U.S. Representative Maxine Waters

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
Stephen Taubert Found Guilty of Making Telephonic Death Threats

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – A jury today convicted Stephen J. Taubert, age 61, of Syracuse,  of making death threats toward former President of the United States Barack Obama and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The verdict was announced by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith, Chief Matthew R. Verderosa, United States Capitol Police, and Special Agent in Charge Lewis Robinson, United States Secret Service, Buffalo, New York Field Office.

The verdict followed a three-day trial in federal court in Syracuse,. Taubert was convicted of threatening to kill a former President of the United States, transmitting a threat via interstate commerce, and threatening to murder a member of Congress with intent to impede, interfere with, or retaliate against a member of Congress during and because of her performance of official duties.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that on June 2, 2017, Taubert made multiple phone calls to the Washington D.C. office of then-Minnesota Senator Al Franken. In two of those calls, Taubert stated that he was planning to go to Washington D.C. the next day to “hang” former President Obama at his home and to kill him. In making these threats, Taubert repeatedly used vile racial slurs directed toward former President Obama.

The evidence at trial also demonstrated that on July 20, 2018, Taubert called the Los Angeles, California district office of Congresswoman Maxine Waters and stated that he would be at every event the Congresswoman attended and that he would kill her and every member of her staff. In making these threats, Taubert directed vile racial slurs toward Congresswoman Waters and her staff.

The evidence at trial included a recorded interview of Taubert, during which he made racist statements and an admission that he called Congresswoman Waters’s office to “terrorize” her in retaliation for public statements she had made.

The jury returned guilty verdicts on all three counts charged in the indictment. The jury also made specific findings that Taubert selected his victims because of their actual or perceived race, color, or ethnicity, which provides an enhancement under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for hate-crime motivation.

Taubert is scheduled to be sentenced on July 24, 2019, in Syracuse by Chief United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby, who presided over the jury trial. Taubert faces up to 10 years in prison on the retaliation count and up to five years on each of the other two counts. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case was investigated by the United States Capitol Police, Threat Assessment Section, and the United States Secret Service, with assistance from the Syracuse Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Gadarian and Michael F. Perry.

Updated March 21, 2019

Violent Crime