A West Virginia man was sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday after he sent emails describing Dr. Anthony Fauci and another US federal health official, Dr, Francis Collins, threatened for talking about the coronavirus and efforts to prevent its spread.
Using an anonymous email account based in Switzerland, Thomas Patrick Connally Jr. Fauci or members of his family, the US Department of Justice said in a press release. One of Connally’s posts said that the health officer “would be dragged onto the street, beaten to death and set on fire”.
Another email said Fauci would be “hunted, imprisoned, tortured and killed,” according to court records.
Fauci is the chief medical adviser to US President Joe Biden and director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
He is an outspoken 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, the director of the NIH at the time of Connally’s threats. Collins and his family were threatened with physical violence and death if he continued to speak about the need for “mandatory” COVID-19 vaccinations, the Justice Department said.
No right to make threats, says DA
Connally also admitted to sending emails in which Dr. Rachel Levine, then Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, was threatened, the Justice Department said. An unidentified public health official in Massachusetts and a religious leader in New Jersey were also threatened.
“Everyone has a right to disagree, but you have no right to threaten the life of a federal official,” Erek L. Barron, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, said in a statement.
US District Judge Paula Xinis has 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.