U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis sentenced Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr., age 56, most recently of Snowshoe, West Virginia, to 37 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for making threats against a federal official, specifically for sending emails threatening harm to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the current Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Connally further admitted threatening Dr. Francis Collins, the former Director of the NIH, Dr. Rachel Levine, currently the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as a Massachusetts public health official and a religious leader.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Christian J. Schrank, Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Everyone has the right to disagree, but you do not have the right to threaten a federal official’s life,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron. “Threats like these will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Today’s sentencing shows that individuals threatening violence against federal officials and others will be held accountable for their crimes,” said Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Christian J. Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “The public, including public servants, deserve the utmost safety and the assurance that they can perform their duties without interference. Our agency, working closely with our law enforcement partners, will continue to bring those who threaten violence to justice.”
According to Connally’s plea agreement, from December 28, 2020, to July 25, 2021, Connally used an anonymous email account from a provider of secure, encrypted email services based in Switzerland to send a series of emails to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the current Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (“NIAID”) and the Chief Medical Advisor to President of the United States, threatening to harm and kill Dr. Fauci and members of his family. One of the emails threatened that Dr. Fauci and his family would be “dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.” On April 24, 2021, alone, Connally sent seven threatening emails starting at 10:05 p.m.
As detailed in Connally’s plea agreement, also on April 24, 2021, beginning at 9:34 p.m., Connally sent Dr. Francis Collins, the then-Director of the NIH, a series of four emails threatening Dr. Collins and his family with physical assault and death if Dr. Collins did not stop speaking about the need for “mandatory” COVID-19 vaccinations.
As stated in his plea agreement, Connally admitted that he sent the threats to Drs. Fauci and Collins with the intent to intimidate or interfere with the performance of their official duties and with the intent to retaliate against Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins for performing their official duties, including discussing COVID-19 and its testing and prevention.
Connally also admitted sending emails threatening harm to three other individuals. Specifically, on November 24, 2020, Connally sent a series of six threatening emails to Dr. Rachel Levine, then Secretary of Health for the State of Pennsylvania, at Dr. Levine’s email account at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The subject lines and body of the emails threatened Dr. Levine with physical violence and death. Similarly, on August 31, 2020, Connally sent an email threatening physical violence and death for a public health official in Massachusetts. Finally, on April 21, 2021, Connally sent a series of four threatening emails to four individuals who work for a religious institution in Newark, New Jersey. The four emails threatened physical violence and death to a religious leader at the institution.
Investigation revealed that the anonymous encrypted email account was associated with Connally. On July 27, 2021, law enforcement arrested Connally in Snowshoe, West Virginia, and executed a search warrant at his residence as well as on his vehicle, seizing five laptops and two cellular telephones which belonged to Connally.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the HHS OIG for its work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rajeev R. Raghavan and Jessica C. Collins, who prosecuted the federal case.