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.

The criminal complaint, made public Tuesday, accused Thomas Patrick Connally Jr. of sending emails detailing the ways in which the leading health experts and their families would die.

“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.