Two U.S. senators who supported the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court received death threats from a Long Island, NY resident, who was arrested Friday morning.
Federal authorities say Ronald DeRisi, 74, sent expletive-laden phone messages to two senators — who were not named in the complaint — beginning on September 27, the day Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused the judge of sexual assault, testified before Congress.
In one of 10 “threatening voice-messages,” DeRisi told one of the senators he had a “present” for them.
“It’s a nine-millimeter. Side of your … skull,” DeRisi said. “Yeah, Kavanaugh — I don’t think so.”
In another message left the same day for the same senator, DeRisi said: “If f—– Kavanaugh gets in, he’s dead f—— meat!”
On the day Kavanaugh was confirmed, DeRisi called the other senator, threatening, “You better pray this guy don’t get in.”
“I’m gonna get you,” DeRisi said in another message to this senator, according to the complaint.
Police determined DeRisi was the culprit using phone records, voice exemplars, and matching his credit card to purchased pre-paid cell phones, which he used to make the calls in and around his home.
Authorities say in their complaint against DeRisi that he made the threats to try and keep those senators from supporting Kavanaugh “and/or as retaliation for having voted to confirm” the judge.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case. Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for New York’s Eastern District, issued a statement regarding the threats sent by DeRisi.
“We and all those dedicated to the rule of law will not tolerate the use violence and threats of violence in attempts to prevail in political disputes,” he said.
DeRisi was previously charged in 2015 for phoning the home and office of another victim more than 15 times, also leaving threatening messages. He plead guilty to “a state charge of aggravated harassement [sic],” according to CNBC. He was also charged with felony tampering in 2011 after he allegedly cut cables at a cell tower construction site.
DeRisi’s attorney, Peter Brill, said his client was diagnosed with “cerebral atrophy which has led to progressive dementia.”
“He’s not a violent person, although his disease has led to an increased lack of impulse control,” Brill told CNBC. “We know this story was scary to the people he called, but he’s not a violent person and I’m just going to continue to hope that he gets th [sic] help that he needs.”
DeRisi is just one of many who sent death threats to senators over Kavanaugh’s nomination. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) received coat hangers and death threats in an attempt to persuade her to vote against the judge. Collins held firm and delivered an impressive speech detailing why she chose to vote for Kavanaugh despite the actions of his opponents. This past week, a hazmat team was called to investigate a letter sent to the senator’s husband.
A package with a suspicious powder was also sent to Sen. Ted Cruz’s office in Texas, and he was harassed out of a restaurant by protesters.