According to the Department of Justice (DOJ) a man from Florida has plead guilty to federal charges of threatening to kill Democratic Congresspersons—Nancy Pelosi in 2019 and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2020. The DOJ stated that Paul Vernon pleaded guilty to interstate transmissions of threats to injure, in federal court in Ft. Pierce.
Paul Vernon will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, on April 1. He can receive a prison sentence up to 15 years. The prosecutor in the case is Assistant U.S. Attorney Luisa Honora Berti.
In March 2019, Vernon called the Speaker’s office and said that he had traveled a “long way” to “rattle” her head with bullets. He also said that he wanted to behead her. In November 2020, he had called Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ office and left a message which stated that he wanted to kill her. He also phoned in a racist threat to Chicago District Attorney Kim Foxx, who is also a Democrat, according to the DOJ.
NBC News also reported that the 60-year old Palm Beach Gardens resident had also mentioned an “all out war and a”civilian army” according to the plea agreement.
Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said that the number of threats or potential threats to Congresspersons has been rising through the years. The threats come from different sources such as phone calls, email and others come on social media. They investigate all the threats and not only the one that reach the level of crime.
The Police Chief also said that the number of threats had risen. In 2017, the agency saw roughly 3,900 threats while the number increased several times over and was more than 8,000 in 2020. The number was about 9,600 in 2021.
Last year was also the year of the January 6 insurrection when a violent mob of pro-Trump supporters overran the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the November 2020 presidential elections. Some members of the crowd had chanted “Hang Mike Pence” during the riot.