Man Who Threatened to Kill 2 Senators Who Supported Kavanaugh Gets 18 Months in Prison


A Long Island man who threatened to kill two United States senators in retaliation for their support for Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison.

The man, Ronald DeRisi, 75, of Smithtown, N.Y., left multiple expletive-laden voice mail messages at the offices of the senators and threatened to assault and murder them. He was sentenced by Judge Joseph F. Bianco of Federal District Court in Central Islip.

“Nine millimeter, side of the head,” he said in one of the phone calls, according to court documents, which showed that Mr. DeRisi made the calls in the days before and after Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed last October to serve on the Supreme Court.

The confirmation process became a contentious, partisan battle after several women accused Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault and misconduct. He denied the allegations.

In the phone calls, Mr. DeRisi referred to Justice Kavanuagh as a “sexual predator.”

A representative of Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican of Iowa who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, said Monday that he had been one of the officials targeted by Mr. DeRisi. His office declined to comment on the sentence.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine whose support for Mr. Kavanaugh was pivotal to his confirmation, was the other senator threatened by Mr. DeRisi, a spokeswoman for Ms. Collins confirmed.

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Ronald DeRisi was sentenced to 18 months in prison for threatening to kill two United States senators.CreditSuffolk County Police Department, via Associated Press

After executing a search warrant at Mr. DeRisi’s home in October, investigators found ammunition for a 9-millimeter gun and a BB gun.

Mr. DeRisi pleaded guilty in February to threatening to assault and murder the two senators.

Threatening to kill a United States official is a federal crime that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

“Our political process allows for vigorous debate, but not destruction,” United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said in a statement on Monday. “Threatening to harm or kill elected officials because one disagrees with their public positions goes far beyond the scope of the First Amendment and will not be tolerated.”

As part of his sentence, Mr. DeRisi forfeited two firearms, which were being kept by a family member, to the federal government.

Peter E. Brill, a lawyer who represented Mr. DeRisi in the past, has said that Mr. DeRisi suffered from dementia and other health problems.

He said that in 2011, Mr. DeRisi was arrested after using a decorative sword to cut cables on a cell tower near his home. He also said that Mr. DeRisi had been arrested in 2015 after allegedly threatening a lawyer for a homeowners’ association with which he had a dispute, and a psychological evaluation found that Mr. DeRisi had cerebral atrophy that seemed to be affecting his actions.

On Monday, Mr. Brill referred questions to another lawyer, Martin Geduldig, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



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