You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 6, 2017

Seattle Man Sentenced for Threatening Congressman over Democratic Primary Election

Protestor Harassed Staffers and Threatened to Harm Congressman

          A 28-year-old Seattle man was sentenced to two months in prison and three years of supervised release including six months of home confinement and 240 hours of community service for threatening former Congressman Jim McDermott, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. JASPER KILMER HILLMAN BELL made multiple phone calls to the staff of Congressman Jim McDermott in mid-April 2016, and in one call threatened to cut out the congressman’s tongue. Later he went to the Congressman’s Seattle office demanding to be let in. BELL expressed outrage over how delegates were being allocated between the two Democratic candidates for President and the role of Congressman McDermott as a ‘Super Delegate.’ U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said BELL’s actions were “Just so wrong on so many levels… This was somebody who knew better… The reaction (of law enforcement) was proportionate to the threat.”

          According to records in the case, in mid-April 2016, protestors went to Congressman McDermott’s office unhappy about his support for a particular Democratic presidential candidate as a ‘Super Delegate.’ BELL had written to the Congressman three times about the Super Delegate controversy, and had called the office on multiple occasions. On April 22, 2016, BELL called the Congressman’s office in Seattle seventeen times, and his Washington DC office an additional six times in one fifty-minute period. In the calls BELL expressed his outrage that protestors had been arrested at the Congressman’s office. Speaking with staffers BELL demanded to know the Congressman’s home address and said he would “track him down and cut his (expletive) tongue out.” BELL told one staffer he would find Congressman McDermott’s home address and “…he would not be safe.” Following the angry phone calls BELL went to the Congressman’s office and pounded on the locked exterior doors demanding to be admitted to the offices. Seattle Police arrested BELL later that evening.

          Telling BELL that Congressman McDermott deserved BELL’s “admiration and respect,” Judge Lasnik ordered BELL to do 240 hours of community service working with AIDS patients and the poor – two groups Congressman McDermott worked to assist during his career. Judge Lasnik then ordered BELL to research and produce two reports for the court – one on McDermott’s long career and another on Jack Hammann’s book ‘On American Soil.’ The book investigates how African-American soldiers were wrongly convicted of manslaughter at what was then Fort Lawton in Seattle. Congressman McDermott was instrumental in getting the Army to reopen the investigation, reverse the wrongful convictions and restore the honorable service record of the soldiers. Judge Lasnik said he plans to schedule a hearing after receiving the reports to ensure BELL has used his time on supervision as a learning experience.

          The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department, U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Todd Greenberg.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Updated January 6, 2017