LOS ANGELES — A 60-year-old man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to making a series of phone calls to the Hawthorne office of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and threatening her with violence and death.
Brian Gaherty of Houston faces four counts of making threats in interstate communications and four counts of threatening a United States official, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A trial was scheduled for July 25 before U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, but that date is expected to change.
Gaherty was arrested on April 13 after federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint that outlined the series of threats to Waters and alleged Gaherty had threatened other elected officials and a news reporter in Houston.
An indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court alleges that Gaherty called the congresswoman’s office four times last year — twice on Aug. 8, once on Nov. 8, and again two days later. Gaherty allegedly left four voicemails, each of which contained a threat.
For example, in one of the August calls to Waters, Gaherty allegedly threatened to “cut your throat,” court papers show.
The four counts of threatening a U.S. official allege that Gaherty “knowingly threatened to assault and kill” Waters “with the intent to impede, intimidate and interfere” with the elected official while she was engaged in the performance of her official duties, according to the indictment.
“Threats to harm and kill an elected official impact the intended victim, her entire staff and every constituent who is not receiving services because the elected official is dealing with the security threat,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement.
“The entire Justice Department is dedicated to protecting American democracy, which includes combating threats that terrorize officials who have been elected to serve the public.”
After Gaherty was arrested at his residence in Houston, he made a court appearance and on April 17 was ordered released on $100,000 bond, federal prosecutors said.
Each count of making a threat to a United States official carries a possible sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison. The charge of making threats in interstate communications carries a possible maximum penalty of five years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In 2018, a San Pedro man who left a voicemail for Waters threatening to kill her was sentenced to six months of house arrest. Anthony Lloyd was additionally ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
In a letter filed with the court prior to sentencing, Waters said that while she appreciates that Lloyd pleaded guilty and expressed remorse, a lenient sentence would “only embolden others to engage in similar conduct.”
Lloyd should “be held accountable for his actions in a manner extending beyond probation,” the congresswoman wrote.
Lloyd made the threat during a phone call to Waters’ Capitol Hill office. He had become angered while listening to talk radio when he heard a report in which Waters made disparaging comments about then-President Donald Trump, according to court papers.
Source: Orange County Register