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Justice News

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Syracuse Man Pleads Guilty To Threatening Death Against A New York Congressman And His Family

CONTACT:  Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX #:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Patrick D. Angelo, 28, of Syracuse, NY, pleaded guilty to interstate communication of a threat before U.S. District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Craig R. Gestring and Sean C. Eldridge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York in Rochester, who are prosecuting the case, stated that on Thursday, October 19, 2017, the Washington D.C. office of New York Congressman John Katko received a threatening voice mail that included a death threat to the Congressman and his family.

The message stated: “Listen Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you. But if you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill…you…all. Do you understand?” The message continued: “I will literally find all…of…you and your progeny and t- just wipe you from the face of the earth. Net neutrality is more important than the defense of the United States. Net neutrality is more important than free speech. Net neutrality is more important than health care. Net neutrality is literally the basis of the new society. That even if you don’t understand, how important it is, net neutrality is literally the basis of the new…free…society. So if you don’t support it, I am willing to lay down my li- (recording ends).”

Congressman Katko’s office reported the voicemail to the United States Capitol Police, Threat Assessment Section, which began an investigation in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The telephone number that the call originated from traced back to the defendant. 

As a result of the threat, security surrounding Congressman Katko was increased. Since Congressman Katko formerly served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of New York, that Office was recused, and the case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.

“While citizens are certainly entitled to communicate their views on issues of importance to them to their elected officials,” said U.S. Attorney Kennedy, “there are and must be bounds to the manner in which such views may be expressed. As today’s plea makes clear, defendant overstepped those bounds. By making threats to the lives of Congressman Katko and his family, the defendant potentially faces not only a significant prison sentence but also, as a convicted felon, a loss of his right to vote. Ironically, yet fittingly, by abandoning rationale discourse and resorting to threats against a public official, the defendant has essentially rendered himself a mute in the political process. As a democratic republic, we cannot and will not tolerate true threats against those in public office.” 

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Vadim Thomas, Special Agent-in-Charge, Albany Office; the New York State Police, under the Major Philip T. Rougeux; and the United States Capitol Police, under the direction of Matthew R. Verderosa. 

Sentencing is scheduled for June 21, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. before Judge D’Agostino.

Updated February 20, 2018