Alaskan Jay Allen Johnson could face 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of threatening to kill a U.S. official after sending a series of homicidal voicemails to Alaska’s two U.S. senators.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline accepted the pleas and set Johnson’s sentencing for April 8, 2022.
Each charge carries a potential sentence of up to 10 years and Johnson will be banned from contacting either senator for three years.
He will also have to turn over all seven of his guns, which he was not supposed to own in the first place due to his status as a felon for repeated drunken driving.
In exchange for the pleas, his other charges of making interstate threats and threatening property damage via fire or explosives have been dropped.
According to Johnson’s indictment, between April and September, he left 17 voice messages for U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan at their Washington, D.C., offices.
His threats ranged from the more vague promise to shut Murkowski down to threatening to hire an assassin to kill her. He also threatened to shoot Sullivan.
At a hearing, the 65-year-old Johnson apologized, adding that he was a “senior citizen” and a “highly disabled” man with no intention of carrying out the threats.
Johnson, who has been in custody since his arrest on Oct. 4, has asked for earlier sentencing than April 8.
In one message left Sept. 2 for Murkowski, he said, “You, my dear, are not welcomed in the state of Alaska,” and vowed to shut her down.
“I will find out all your properties, and I will burn everything you hope to have, and I will burn everything you hope to own,” the message said.
He then claimed he could tap his skills as a “veteran,” using a .50-caliber shell.
“You ever seen what that does to a human head?” he said.
Prosecutors said they found no evidence that Johnson served in the U.S. military, confirming what the services earlier told the Associated Press, that they could find no record for him.
Later that month, he left another voicemail for Murkowski, claiming he would hire an assassin for $5,000 to kill her. “Just resign or get the f— gone,” he said.
In another September call, this time to Sullivan’s office, Johnson said he was tired of politicians continuing to destroy the country. He again vowed to get his “.50 caliber out. I will be having a GoFundMe page for f—— shells. And I’m coming with a vengeance.”
During several court appearances, and often against the advice of his attorney, Johnson spoke in open court.
“I just apologize to everybody,” he said at a hearing.
Catherine Pousson-Johnson testified during her husband’s detention hearing in October that he was recovering from recent surgeries.
“He’s in pain right now. My husband is an old man, and he gets very angry listening to politics on the news,” she said.
Federal prosecutor Ryan Tansey later asked her if she was aware her husband was making threats against two U.S. senators.
“Who hasn’t?” she replied.