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Press Release

Olympia man sentenced for racially motivated threats against federal worker

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant’s frustration at Social Security office turned into threats and racial slurs targeting a Black federal employee

Tacoma – A 42-year-old Thurston County resident was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 30 months in prison for making a threat against a Black federal employee at the Social Security office in Olympia, Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Steven L. Veres was initially charged in July 2023. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “Your criminal history shows a disrespect for the law.”

“This defendant not only used racial slurs in this case, investigators discovered his use of racial slurs in social media messages back in 2020 when he was threatening to find and assault or kill a different Black victim,” said U.S. Attorney Gorman. “Such conduct is a window into his hate-filled mindset that leads to this prison sentence today.”

According to records filed in the case, on February 16, 2023, Veres and a companion went to the Olympia Social Security Administration office seeking a replacement Social Security card. When a Black Social Security Administration employee told Veres that Veres lacked the proper paperwork to obtain a new Social Security card, Veres became irate, threatening to assault and, per some witnesses, kill the worker. Veres also repeatedly yelled racial slurs at the employee.

Veres pleaded guilty in April 2024 to Influencing a Federal Official by Threat. The Court also imposed a hate-crimes sentencing enhancement, finding that Veres targeted the victim because of the victim’s perceived race or color.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, both sides asked for a sentence of 30 months in prison.

In asking for the 30-month sentence, prosecutors noted that Veres has a history with numerous criminal convictions. “Mr. Veres has an extensive criminal history, including convictions for taking a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property and vehicles, forgery, harassment (domestic violence), malicious mischief, methamphetamine possession with intent to distribute, obstruction, and identity theft. He also has a poor record on supervision, having “made himself unavailable for supervision on five occasions” and having been “returned to custody seven times” in his first stint on supervision in the mid-2000s, and then having made himself unavailable for supervision on 17 occasions and having been returned to custody 19 times on his lengthy period on supervision between 2007 and the present,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

Veres will be on federal supervision for three years following his prison term.

As part of the plea agreement, Grays Harbor County will dismiss an unrelated prosecution against Veres for attempting to elude a police officer.

The case was investigated by the Federal Protective Service.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Will Dreher and Elyne Vaught in coordination with the Criminal Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated June 25, 2024

Civil Rights