West Virginia man sentenced to prison for threatening Fauci and others

A West Virginia man will be spending more than three years in prison for making threats to federal public health officials he didn’t like hearing talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, testing and prevention.

Fifty-six-year-old Thomas Patrick Connally Jr., most recently of Snowshoe, West Virginia, was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to threatening, among others, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who currently heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

Using an anonymous email account based in Switzerland, Connally threatened to kill Fauci or members of his family, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

One of the emails threatened that Fauci and his family would be dragged into the street, beaten to death and set on fire. Another email said Fauci would be “hunted, captured, tortured and killed,” according to court records.

“Everyone has the right to disagree, but you do not have the right to threaten a federal official’s life,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron said in a news release.

Connally also admitted sending emails threatening to harm Dr. Francis Collins, former director of the NIH, and Dr. Rachel Levine, currently the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who at the time was serving as Pennsylvania health secretary.

Threats were also sent to a public health official in Massachusetts, and to four individuals who work for a religious institution in Newark, New Jersey.

“The public, including public servants, deserve the utmost safety and the assurance that they can perform their duties without interference,” Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Christian J. Schrank of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services said. “Our agency, working closely with our law enforcement partners, will continue to bring those who threaten violence to justice.”

Fauci is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Fauci has been a vocal supporter of vaccines and other preventive measures against COVID-19. He said he expects to retire at the end of Biden’s current term.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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