Man pleads guilty to sending threatening voicemails to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
By Lauren del Valle, CNN
A man in northern New York pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday over sending threatening voicemails to Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene last March.
Joseph Morelli pleaded guilty to three counts of interstate threatening communications in federal court in Syracuse, New York, according to court records.
Morelli, who plainly identified himself in the voicemails, left seven threatening messages at the congresswoman’s office and threatened to harm any law enforcement if they responded to his calls, according to the complaint.
Morelli said in a voicemail to Greene, “You promote violence, and I think as a true patriot and humanitarian and human being, I think I’m gonna have to show you, to your face, right up front, what violence truly is and I don’t think you’re gonna like it,” according to court documents.
“Yeah, I just don’t think I can go on letting you, you know, cause hatred and poison to people. I really think I’m gonna have to cause you harm — physical harm,” Morelli said, according to court documents. “I’m gonna have to take your life into my own hands,” Morelli said.
Prosecutors filed a federal complaint under seal in the Northern District of New York days after the voicemails last March, according to court documents.
The man reportedly has a history of making harassing and threatening calls, prosecutors told a judge last month, including to a local city judge and the lawyer representing his wife in a custody dispute.
Prosecutors asked the court to remand Morelli into custody ahead of his sentencing, calling him a danger to the community, but the judge allowed Morelli to continue to be released on home confinement pending his sentencing on June 1.
Morelli’s counsel argued last week that remanding him to prison solely because he pleaded guilty ahead of his sentencing would be “retributive and punitive” and noted that prosecutors had not identified any new evidence since his initial detention hearing to suggest he was a flight risk or danger to the community.
“Joe is still engaged in mental health treatment and is still on home detention and location monitoring as required by the Court. He continues to be fully compliant with all conditions of release,” Gabrielle DiBella, Morelli’s attorney told, CNN.
He faces up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000, according to sentencing guidelines, but he could likely be sentenced to an estimated 10 to 16 months if given credit for accepting responsibility, according to a court submission filed by prosecutors.
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