A 56-year-old man from Maryland has been charged with threatening to harm Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, and Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
“You and your entire family will be dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire,” he allegedly wrote in one of several emails to Fauci, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
The profanity-laced emails allegedly revealed ardent disapproval of “mandatory vaccines,” though the government has not imposed any such mandate. He also accused Fauci of engaging in an “HIV scam,” according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.
The investigation grew out of a government response last year to an increasing number of threats directed at Fauci, with the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general’s office vetting the threats. The charge landed in court as the federal government is under pressure by some to curb the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus with more-stringent mask and vaccine mandates and by others to maintain what they view as the freedoms necessary to live as they please.
Connally, according to court documents filed by the government, began sending the emails in late December and continued to do so until as recently as last Wednesday. He requested that the complaint be unsealed, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Maryland.
A special agent with the HHS inspector general’s office said in the affidavit that Connally used an encrypted email service based in Switzerland to send the emails.
“Our public health officials deserve our thanks and appreciation for their tireless work, and we will not hesitate to bring charges against those individuals who seek to use fear to silence these public servants,” acting U.S. attorney Jonathan Lenzner said in a statement.
Connally did not have attorneys listed in court records as of Tuesday afternoon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for threats against a federal official and five years for interstate communication containing a threat to harm.
He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., on Wednesday.
Coronavirus: What you need to know
Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot. New federal data shows adults who received the updated shots cut their risk of being hospitalized with covid-19 by 50 percent. Here’s guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.
New covid variant: The XBB.1.5 variant is a highly transmissible descendant of omicron that is now estimated to cause about half of new infections in the country. We answered some frequently asked questions about the bivalent booster shots.
Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.
Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.
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