A New York man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to sending several threatening voicemails to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) last March.
Joseph Francis Morelli pleaded guilty to three counts of interstate threatening communications for a series of voicemail messages that he left for Greene’s Washington, D.C., office on March 3.
“I just don’t think I can go on letting you, you know, cause hatred and poison to people,” he said in one message at 11:11 p.m., according to court documents. “I really think I’m gonna have to cause you harm — physical harm.”
“l’m gonna have to take your life into my own hands,” he added in the same call. “I’m gonna hurt you. Physically, I’m gonna harm you.”
This message was quickly followed by another at 11:18 p.m., in which Morelli threatened to “pay someone 500 bucks to take a baseball bat and crack your skull.”
In a third call at 11:24 p.m., Morelli added, “I’m gonna make sure that, even if they lock me up, someone’s gonna get you ’cause I’ll pay them to.”
Morelli, who faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, will be sentenced on June 1.
The voicemails that Greene received come amid a larger surge of threats against lawmakers. U.S. Capitol Police investigated 7,501 threats against members of Congress in 2022, according to new data released in January.
However, these numbers are down slightly from the past two years, with Capitol Police recording 9,625 threats in 2021 and 8,613 threats in 2020.
“The threats against Members of Congress are still too high,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a press release. “This has resulted in a necessary expansion of, not only our investigative capabilities, but our protection responsibilities as well.”
“While that work is ongoing, everyone continuing to decrease violent political rhetoric across the country is the best way to keep everyone safe,” he added.
In one of the most high-profile incidents last year, a man broke into the San Francisco home of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and assaulted her husband with a hammer after he failed to find the Speaker.
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