A West Virginia man was sentenced Thursday to three years in federal prison after he sent emails threatening Dr. Anthony Fauci and another U.S. federal health official, Dr, Francis Collins, for talking about the coronavirus and efforts to prevent its spread.
Using an anonymous email account based in Switzerland, Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr. threatened to kill Fauci or members of his family, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release. One of Connally’s messages said the health official would be “dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.”
Another email said Fauci would be “hunted, captured, tortured and killed,” according to court records.
Fauci is U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.
He has been a vocal supporter of vaccines and other preventive measures against COVID-19, and has said he expects to retire at the end of Biden’s current term.
Another person targeted was Dr. Francis Collins, who was the NIH director at the time of Connally’s threats. Collins and his family were threatened with physical assault and death if he continued to speak about the need for “mandatory” COVID-19 vaccinations, the Justice Department said.
No right to make threats, DA says
Connally also admitted to sending emails threatening Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s then-Secretary of Health, the Justice Department said. An unidentified public health official in Massachusetts and a religious leader in New Jersey were also threatened.
“Everyone has the right to disagree, but you do not have the right to threaten a federal official’s life,” Erek L. Barron, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, said in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis sentenced Connally to 37 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Connally most recently lived in Snowshoe, W. Va.
He was arrested last summer, and pleaded guilty in May to making threats against a federal official.