Laramie man gets 18 months in prison for threatening Barrasso, Lummis, Bouchard
Christopher Podlesnik will spend a year and a half in prison for voicemails he left members of Congress and a state lawmaker in January. He is also being fined $10,000.
Florida Representative Matt Gaetz hosted a rally on Jan. 28 on the steps of the Wyoming State Capitol Building, urging Republicans to primary and replace Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney.
Ahead of the rally, Podlesnik left a series of voicemails for Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, threatening to kill them if they let Gaetz come to Wyoming.
"I'm going to [expletive] shoot you in the [expletive] head," Podlesnik said in a voicemail to Lummis.
"I will [expletive] see that Matt Gaetz gets killed when he [expletive] gets here," he said in a voicemail to Barrasso.
Podlesnik also left a voicemail for Gaetz himself, and another for state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, calling him a traitor and threatening to shoot him as well.
"It strikes me as hypocritical," said Charles Pelkey, Podlesnik's attorney. "There have been several people on the list that Mr. Podlesnik threatened, who have since made their own threats."
Pelkey said the FBI started investigating Podlesnik two full months after the voicemails were left. During that time, Podlesnik never acted on those threats, Pelkey said, despite the man having a Washington, D.C. apartment within walking distance of the U.S. Capitol Building.
"His case boils down to an unfortunate night where he made those threats, but he never carried through," Pelkey said. "For the people who actually attacked the capitol on Jan. 6 — an event to which (Podlesnik) was reacting — I believe the most serious sentence in those cases is 40-some months for the bonehead QAnon Shaman."
Podlesnik made his threats amid the tense national atmosphere that followed the Jan. 6 riot. Matt Gaetz was in Wyoming rallying against Cheney specifically because of her response to the riot. Cheney remains on the hot seat with her own party, even today, for voting to impeach Trump over his role in the events of Jan. 6.
Pelkey said he and Podlesnik will appeal the sentence based on inconsistency in the application of the law. He said 18 months is a harsh sentence for what Podlesnik did, especially in light of the sentences being handed down to those involved in Jan. 6.
"They're all over the map," Pelkey said. "The woman who claimed she was too white, too blond and too rich to serve any time in jail got 60 days for her participation in the January 6 insurrection. Mr. Podlesnik, who took no action on the threats he (made) — he's going to spend 18 months."
The case was handled by the FBI, with help from U.S. Capitol Police, Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Laramie Police Department.
"As Americans, we cherish the freedoms secured by our Bill of Rights, including our freedom of speech," Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray says in a news release. "However, the criminal threats Christopher Podlesnik made with the intent to place multiple victims in fear of injury or death are not free speech protected by the Constitution. Rather, those threats cost him a hefty fine and 18 months in federal prison."