Man sentenced for threats to Grassley, Collins over Kavanaugh vote

Man sentenced for threats to Grassley, Collins over Kavanaugh vote
Sen. Chuck Grassley, left, escorts Brett Kavanaugh to the witness table as he arrives for the second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in September. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge sentenced a New York man to 18 months in prison on Monday for threatening to kill two U.S. senators who supported Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prosecutors sought an even longer sentence for Ronald DeRisi, 75, saying he went to great lengths to mask his identity and researched the senators’ home addresses and personal phone numbers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has identified himself as one of the victims in the case. The staff of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine confirmed Monday that she also received threatening messages from DeRisi.

Grassley served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when it advanced Kavanaugh’s nomination last year; Collins cast a decisive vote in Kavanaugh’s favor.

“Threatening to harm or kill elected officials because one disagrees with their public positions goes far beyond the scope of the First Amendment and will not be tolerated,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said.

DeRisi’s attorneys described him as an “angry, sick old man” who suffers from dementia but does not pose a risk of violence. They wrote in court filings that Kavanaugh’s nomination “sparked an inexplicable rage” in DeRisi but that his physical condition made it “virtually impossible for him to carry out his threats.”

DeRisi, of Smithtown on Long Island, pleaded guilty this year to making a series of threats that began the day before Kavanaugh appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a highly anticipated hearing.

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