You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Syracuse Man Sentenced to 46 Months for Threats Against Public Officials

Stephen J. Taubert Threatened Congresswoman and Former President Obama

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Stephen J. Taubert, age 61, of Syracuse, was sentenced today by Chief United States District Court Judge Glenn T. Suddaby to serve 46 months in prison, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release, and to pay a fine of $1,000, following Taubert’s conviction after trial on charges that he threatened to kill Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA 43rd District) and her staff, and separately threatened to kill former President Barack Obama.  The sentence 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.

United States Attorney Jaquith said, “The jury unanimously found that Taubert targeted former President Obama and Representative Waters because of their race.  Racist threats to kill present and former public officials are not protected free speech, but serious crimes against both the victims and the rule of law that is the cornerstone of our republic.   As the trial verdict and sentence in this case illustrate, those who spew such vile, violent hatred will be held accountable.”

In March 2019, a federal jury found Taubert guilty of making several telephone calls to the Washington D.C. office of then-Minnesota Senator Al Franken in June 2017. 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 jury also convicted Taubert of threatening Congresswoman Maxine Waters on July 20, 2018. Taubert called the Los Angeles, California district office of Congresswoman 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 law enforcement interview of Taubert, during which he admitted that he called Congresswoman Waters’s office to “terrorize” her in retaliation for public statements she had previously made.

In addition to returning guilty verdicts on all three counts charged in the indictment, the trial jury made specific findings that Taubert selected his victims because of their actual or perceived race, color, or ethnicity, which provided for an enhancement under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines based upon hate-crime motivation.

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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Gadarian and Michael F. Perry.

Violent Crime
Updated May 1, 2019