Hours before the special Senate runoff in Georgia was called for the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock (D) in the early hours on Jan. 6, Eduard Florea went on the conservative social media platform Parler and wrote: “Warnock is going to have a hard time casting votes for communist policies when he’s swinging with the … fish.”
In a later post, he wrote in reference to Warnock: “Dead men can’t pass [expletive] laws.”
Now, Florea is facing up to 15 years in prison for making those threats, prosecutors announced Monday. The 41-year-old from Queens pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting threats to injure and one count of possessing ammunition after having been convicted of a felony.
“With today’s guilty plea, Florea admits to threatening the life of a successful candidate for the U.S. Senate and to urging others to take up arms to unleash violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to thwart the results of the Presidential election,” Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a news release on Monday.
Attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg, who represents Florea, did not respond to a request for comment.
Florea’s online threats came Jan. 6 after Warnock and Jon Ossoff (D) narrowly won Senate seats in special runoffs in Georgia. The same day, hordes of President Donald Trump’s supporters showed up to the U.S. Capitol as Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win.
In addition to making threatening comments about Warnock on Jan. 6, Florea had also written on Parler about going to Washington to incite violence.
“The time for peace and civility is over,” he wrote on the app. “Guns cleaned loaded … got a bunch of guys all armed and ready to deploy … we are just waiting for the word,” he wrote, according to an indictment.
On Jan. 12, federal agents and police flooded Florea’s neighborhood in Queens, driving an armored truck onto his street and raiding his basement apartment, the New York Daily News reported. Agents discovered more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, plus hatchets, swords and 75 military-style combat knives. Florea surrendered and was taken into custody.
The ammunition was illegal for Florea to have because he had previously been convicted of illegally possessing an AR-15 rifle and a semiautomatic shotgun in 2014, according to the New York Times.
During a hearing shortly after Florea’s arrest, prosecutors said he admitted to being a supporter of the Proud Boys, a far-right group that has endorsed violence and backed Trump, the Times reported.
Florea’s apprehension came a day before federal authorities announced a number of arrests connected to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Among those arrested were two Rocky Mount, Va., police officers; a man who wore a sweatshirt that said “Camp Auschwitz”; and a five-time Olympic medalist.
Florea never traveled to Washington. Rather, starting on Jan. 5, he began posting on Parler, a social media app popular with Trump supporters, under the account name “LoneWolfWar.”
At about 10 p.m. Jan. 5, he responded to another user, talking about “definitely slicing a throat” in Washington the following day.
In the afternoon, around the time rioters were breaching the Capitol, Florea wrote: “Let’s go. … I will be reaching out to patriots in my area so we can come up with a game plan.”
He added: “I will fight so help me god.”