Amherst Man Sentenced to 33 Months for Threatening Members of Congress and New Hampshire State Representative
CONCORD –Ryder Winegar, 34, of Amherst, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for six counts of threatening members of Congress and one count of transmitting interstate threatening communications, Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley announced.
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. The calls were directed at three Senators and three members of the House of Representatives. 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.”
The messages included very specific threats of violence. 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.” In another message, Winegar said, “And it really, really, it boils down to two camps. You either support our president, support liberty, and f*** this global homo, uh, vaccination Jewish agenda, or you’re not. In which case we’re going to f***ing kill you. Do you understand?”
Members of the U.S. Capitol Police attempted to interview Winegar on December 20, 2020. Winegar refused to speak with the officers. On the following day, before investigators could return with search and arrest warrants, Winegar flew to Brazil, leaving his family behind. Winegar was taken into custody when he returned to the United States on January 11, 2021.
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 previously pleaded guilty on August 6, 2021. He has been in custody since his January arrest. In addition to his sentence, Winegar was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.
“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that threats of violence have no place in our political discourse,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Farley. “While all citizens are free to express their political opinions, it is unlawful to threaten to commit acts of violence against members of Congress or members of the state legislature. This defendant’s graphic threats were a troubling attempt to intimidate lawmakers and a direct assault on the functioning of our constitutional system. This sentence should send a message to the community that those who threaten to commit acts of violence against duly-elected legislators will be held accountable for their unlawful conduct.”
“Threatening to attack and kill six members of Congress and a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives to prevent them from carrying out their constitutional duties is a federal crime, not protected speech. Let’s hope that today’s sentence finally teaches Ryder Winegar that important lesson,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “As the events of this past year have shown, the FBI will do everything it can to ensure those who seek to harm our public servants are brought to justice for their criminal conduct.”
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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles L. Rombeau.