An Addison, New York, man is facing jail time after admitting to making a threatening phone call to the office of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar earlier this year.
Patrick W. Carlineo, 55, pleaded guilty Monday to threatening assault and murder of a U.S. official, the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Western District of New York recently announced. Carlineo also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The defendant could face a possible 10 years behind bars in addition to a $250,000 fine, or both.
“This prosecution highlights the fact that rights secured in our Constitution carry with them certain responsibilities,” U.S. Attorney James Kennedy Jr. said in a statement. He further explained that “The First Amendment right to freedom of speech carries with it the responsibility that individuals not make threats to harm lawmakers simply because they may disagree with them,” and “the Second Amendment right to bear arms carries with it the responsibility that individuals who desire to possess firearms not commit felony crimes.”
The incident unfolded in March when authorities say Carlineo placed a call to Rep. Omar’s office in Washington, D.C. When one of the congresswoman’s staffers answered the phone, Carlineo asked: “Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her? She is a (expletive) terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull.”
The defendant added that “Back in the day, our forefathers would have put a bullet in her (expletive).”
Federal authorities said Carlineo’s threat was retaliatory and based on Omar’s performance of her official duties. He loathed the Somali lawmaker as a “radical Muslim” and “believed Congresswoman Omar supports Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and that Congresswoman Omar’s election to the United States Congress was illegitimate,” according to a press release.
“Pat Carlineo is passionate about his political beliefs and his right to express them,” Zoughlin said. “He’s taken responsibility for using threatening and inappropriate language to express those beliefs in this instance.”
Carlineo also got words of support from the congresswoman herself. In a letter posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Omar called for leniency in the man’s sentencing, arguing that a harsh punishment would do no good.
“But we must ask: who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves?” she wrote. “The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion.”
Carlineo’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 14, 2020.