55-year-old Patrick Carlineo pleaded guilty Monday to charges of threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar, according to the U.S Attorney’s Office of the Western District of New York.
Carlineo is accused of calling Omar’s office on March 21 and telling a staffer that the congresswoman was a “terrorist” and threatened to shoot her.
The New York man could spend up to 10 years in jail or pay a fine of $250,000 for the offense. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 14.
According to U.S. Attorney James Kennedy Jr., the case demonstrates that free speech does not protect people to “make threats to harm lawmakers simply because they may disagree with them.”
Carlineo was arrested in April after Omar’s office reported about his call to the U.S. Capitol Police, who worked with the FBI to investigate. When the suspect was approached by police, he said he is a supporter of Trump and hates radical Muslims in government.
Carlineo’s lawyer, Sonya Zoughlin, said her client did not intend to harm Omar and never made any plans to do so.
“He has taken responsibility for using threatening and inappropriate language to express his beliefs in this instance,” Zoughlin said.
Omar, a Somali-American and a Muslim, has been the target of harsh anti-Muslim criticism.