Amherst Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Members of Congress and New Hampshire State Representative
CONCORD –Ryder Winegar, 34, of Amherst, pleaded guilty on Friday in federal court to six counts of threatening members of Congress and one count of transmitting interstate threatening communications, Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley announced.
In February 2021, Winegar was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with six counts of threatening members of Congress and one count of transmitting interstate threatening communications.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in the early morning hours of December 16, 2020, Winegar left voicemails at the offices of six members of the United States Congress in the District of Columbia. In some of the messages, Winegar identified himself by name or identified his telephone number. The voicemails threatened to hang the members of Congress if they did not “get behind Donald Trump.” For example, in one message, Winegar allegedly said, “I got some advice for you. Here’s the advice, Donald Trump is your president. If you don’t get behind him, we’re going to hang you until you die.”
Following his arrest on about January 11, 2021, investigators learned of a separate, e-mailed threat to a member of the New Hampshire State House of Representatives on December 14, 2020, in which Winegar threatened to pull the representative from his bed and hang him.
Winegar is scheduled to be sentenced on December 1, 2021. He has been in custody since his January arrest.
“While political expression is protected speech, threats to commit acts of violence constitute serious federal crimes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Farley. “By threatening to kill members of Congress and a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, this defendant sought to intimidate public officials. As this prosecution demonstrates, such conduct is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
“Ryder Winegar crossed a line when he threatened to hang six members of Congress, and a New Hampshire state lawmaker, if they didn’t conform to his beliefs. His actions, to which he admitted to today, are crimes, not protected speech,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “The FBI will ensure individuals who engage in criminal conduct with the intent on harming our public servants are held accountable."
The case was investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Amherst Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles L. Rombeau.