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Judge sentences Alaska man to nearly 3 years in prison for threatening to kill senators

An Alaskan man left a series of threatening voicemail messages threatened to kill two states US Senator was sentenced on Friday to 32 months in prison.

U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline sentenced Jay Allen Johnson, 65, after Delta Junction resident pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal charges of threatening to kill or murder a GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan in Alaska, the Ministry of Justice said.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska said each charge carries up to 10 years in prison in January.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors said Johnson would be barred from contacting the senators and their families or staff for three years after he was released from prison. He will also confiscate seven guns that were confiscated from his home.

In addition to the prison sentence, Johnson was also fined $5,000 on Friday, the Justice Department said.

NBC News has reached out to Johnson’s attorney for comment.

Johnson left 17 threatening voicemails with senators over a five-month period and said the letters were intended to retaliate against them “for carrying out their official duties,” prosecutors said in a statement. court documents.

In a voicemail left at Murkowski’s office in Washington, DC, Johnson made multiple threats.

“I will find out everything, where you are. I will find all your possessions and I will burn all that you hope to have, and I will burn all that you hope to possess,” he said in a message, according to the documents. of the court.

He also accused Murkowski of letting “terrorists” and “assassinants” and asked if the senator knew if a .50-caliber shell had “what effect on the head”. Later that month, Johnson left another voicemail threatening to hire an assassin to kill Murkowski, prosecutors said.

The Justice Department said Johnson referred to his .50 caliber in a separate series of violent messages to Sullivan that began in April 2021 and lasted until September. In one message, he threatened threatened to destroy “.50 caliber” and “revenge”, according to court documents cited by prosecutors.

“The defendant’s conduct is simply unacceptable in a democracy,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Tansey wrote in a sentencing memo earlier this month. “Our system allows citizens to resolve political and legal conflicts through political and legal means. As political violence and extremism in the country increase, the threat Threats of violence against public officials will lead to serious criminal consequences.”

Johnson’s attorney, Jason Weiner, said his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and poor physical health, adding that Johnson “knew he would never act on his threats .”

“Between prescribed narcotics, pain relievers and self-medication, Mr Johnson was not himself,” Weiner wrote in a sentencing memo. He attributed the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic and Johnson’s alcohol use to his erratic behavior as well.

Threats against members of Congress increase last year in the months following the January 6 riots in the Capitol. Federal authorities on Friday condemned the threats as threats against Alaska senators.

“The erosion of politeness in our political discourse will never justify threats or acts of violence,” said US Attorney for the District of Alaska John E. Kuhn, Jr. said in a statement. “Johnson’s actions must be punished, and the Justice Department will always work to ensure our elected officials can serve without fear of harm.”

NBC News has reached out to Murkowski and Sullivan’s offices for comment.

Johnson sentencing same day as federal grand jury refuse to convict Four men are accused of planning to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, whom they blame for the public health-related restrictions she ordered early in the coronavirus pandemic.

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