Man Sentenced to 6 Months House Arrest for Threatening Rep. Gaetz Rep Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 29 July 2022 11:41 AM EDT
A California man who pleaded guilty to making a death threat to Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has been sentenced to six months of home confinement.
Eugene Huelsman, 59, was sentenced by a federal judge to a half-year of house arrest, to be followed by five years' probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Huelsman, of Thousand Oaks, California, pleaded guilty in October to a felony interstate threats charge for leaving a threatening voicemail message at Gaetz' district office in Pensacola, Fla., Politico reported.
U.S. District Court Judge T. Kent Wetherell II, an appointee of then-President Donald Trump, imposed the sentence during a roughly 90-minute hearing Thursday afternoon, according to court records, Politico said.
Huelsman's death threat — during a profanity-laced message that was played in court Thursday, a defense attorney told Politico — came three days after the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
"Tell [Gaetz] to watch his back, tell him to watch his children," Huelsman said in the Jan. 9, 2021, message.
"I'm coming for him … I'm gonna f***ing kill him. … I'm gonna put a bullet in you and I'm gonna put a bullet in one of your f***ing kids, too."
Huelsman also said he hoped Gaetz would "die in a shallow grave," according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida.
"The free exercise of speech is central to our democracy," U.S. Attorney Jason R. Coody said. "However, the communication of threats of physical violence, in this case by an individual who had previously made and been investigated for similar threats of violence, is clearly unlawful.
"With our law enforcement partners, we are committed to protecting public safety for all citizens. Today's sentence acknowledges the defendant's repeated threats of violence and should serve as a significant deterrent to those who would threaten violence against others rather than engage in lawful debate."
Defense attorney Curtis Fallgatter told Politico that Huelsman is "very apologetic and remorseful" about the threats.
The probe revealed that Huelsman previously had been investigated by the United States Secret Service for threatening a member of a former president's family on social media.
"Words matter and this sentencing should serve as a warning. Everyone has the right to express their opinion, but when you harass, intimidate, and threaten violence against others, it's a federal crime that will not be tolerated," Sherri E. Onks, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division, said.
"The FBI and our law enforcement partners will work to hold you accountable."