A New York man convicted of making racist threats to kill former President Barack Obama and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will spend the next four years behind bars.
Stephen J. Taubert of Syracuse was sentenced Tuesday to serve 46 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New Yorkannounced. Taubert, 61, is also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
In March, a jury found the U.S. Air Force vet guilty on multiple charges, including making threats against a former president and threatening to assault a federal official.
Prosecutors said Taubert made several calls to the office of then-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) in 2017, claiming he had plans to go to Mr. Obama’s Washington home to hang him. During the calls, Taubert used “vile” rhetoric and slurs aimed at the former president, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The following year, Taubert phoned Rep. Waters’ office in Los Angeles and threatened to kill the Black congresswoman and every member of her staff. The New York man admitted to investigators he called Waters’ to “terrorize” her in retribution for previous statements she had made.
At trial, a jury determined the defendant had targeted Obama and Waters because they’re Black, according to U.S. Attorney Grant Jaquith.
“Racist threats to kill present and former public officials are not protected free speech, but serious crimes against both the victims and the rule of law that is the cornerstone of our republic,” Jaquith said in a statement. “As the trial verdict and sentence in this case illustrate, those who spew such vile, violent hatred will be held accountable.”
During his sentencing Tuesday, Taubert argued that his mental health and medical issues warranted home detention rather than jail time, Syracuse.com reported. He also claimed he’d lashed out because of public criticism of President Donald Trump.
Rep. Waters has been a vocal critic of the president and his policies, and the two have publicly feuded in the past.
“It does get me upset when I listen to the news and they attack the United States president,” said Taubert, calling Trump “a good person” who’s done “a lot for this country and the veterans.”
“Probably the worst thing for me is social media,” he added. “I should stay off of it. When I hear all these people knocking the president, it upsets me.”
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