A 75-year-old man will spend time behind bars after making several threatening phone calls to sitting U.S. Senators after they expressed support for the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year.
Smithtown resident Ronald DeRisi was sentenced in Central Islip federal court to 18 months in prison and was ordered to forfeit a pair of weapons after threatening to assault and kill two senators.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said that in September and October last year, DeRisi called and left approximately 12 anonymous, threatening voice messages to the offices of Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, and Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, both of whom had supported Kavanaugh’s appointment.
The threats, which were made before and after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, included a threat to shoot one of the senators in the head with a 9mm firearm. When he was arrested on Oct. 19 last year, law enforcement investigators recovered live 9mm ammo during the execution of a search warrant at his home.
“Our political process allows for vigorous debate, but not destruction. Threatening to harm or kill elected officials because one disagrees with their public positions goes far beyond the scope of the First Amendment and will not be tolerated,” Donoghue said. “ “We will not allow individuals to influence political decision-making through criminal threats.”
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