A Washington state man was arrested Wednesday and charged in federal court for allegedly making threats against members of Congress via more than 400 voicemails. The threats included antisemitic, violent and racist comments.
Mark Leonetti, 48, a Longview resident, appeared Thursday in the US District Court in Tacoma on seven counts of making interstate threats, according to the criminal complaint.
"You stupid Jew meat b*tch," was one of the hundreds of antisemitic statements Leonetti has reportedly made over the last two years to members of Congress.
“You stupid Jew meat b*tch” - this antisemitic comment was just one of the hundreds of threatening voicemails Mark Leonetti made over the last 2 years to members of Congress.Despite warnings from law enforcement, the 48 year old Longview, WA man would not stop and was arrested.
— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) December 17, 2022
The Justice Department said in a statement that despite "being visited and warned several times by law enforcement and mental health professionals," Leonetti continued his threatening behavior.
"So we’re going to barbecue your ass. We’re going to peel your ass inside out," Leonetti said in one of seven voicemails he left for a lawmaker in September, prosecutors said.
If convicted, Leonetti could face up to five years in prison. The names of the lawmakers Leonetti allegedly threatened have not been released.
Dramatic increase in antisemitic language and in threats
The threats come after several members of Congress and their families have been attacked, harassed or threatened in the recent months. In October, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was violently assaulted in his San Francisco home by a man who police say was looking for the speaker.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced charges against an Ohio man who allegedly threatened to kill an Arizona state election official during the 2022 midterm election season.
The Jewish community was the target of more than half (54%) of all religious bias crimes in 2021, according to the FBI.