A Florida man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to calling the offices of three members of Congress and leaving racist and expletive-laced messages in which he threatened to kill them, prosecutors said.
During those calls — placed in April to Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Representative Eric Swalwell of California and Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — the man, John J. Kless, 49, ranted about guns and terrorism and threatened Democrats.
Mr. Kless, a resident of Taramac, Fla., pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Miami to one count of transmitting threats through interstate communication. He will face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on Aug. 20, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
The federal prosecutor’s office agreed to seek the dismissal of an additional count in exchange for the defendant’s plea, according to court documents.
On April 16, Mr. Kless made three consecutive phone calls to the legislators around 7 a.m., according to court documents. He started with Mr. Swalwell. “The day you come after our guns,” he said, adding an expletive, “is the day you’ll be dead.”
The voice mail message to Ms. Tlaib, one of two Muslim congresswomen, was filled with racist and Islamophobic language: “There’s people like me out there, millions and millions of us who hate you,” Mr. Kless said, “for what you done on 9/11.”
He threatened to kill Representative Tlaib by throwing her “right off the Empire State Building,” records show.
Then he called the Washington office of Senator Booker and said, “Don’t you worry, you government officials, will be in the graves,” according to court documents.
Representatives for the three members of Congress did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday evening.
In April, Mr. Swalwell, who like Mr. Booker is running for president, thanked law enforcement officials for arresting Mr. Kless.
The authorities tracked Mr. Kless’s location using his phone number. When the police arrested him, they found several weapons, including a loaded handgun in a backpack, a rifle and an AR-15, according to court documents. “He had absolutely no intent to execute or carry out any threat,” his lawyer, John P. Musca, said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Mr. Kless’s guilty plea came a week after a New York man was sentenced to 18 months in prison for threatening to kill two United States senators for supporting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
The authorities also arrested a Utah man last week on charges that he threatened to kill members of Congress. According to The Associated Press, the authorities said that the man had made over 2,000 phone calls to the United States Capitol over three years.
Christopher Mele contributed reporting.
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