Los Angeles Times

Man gets 3 years in prison for threats

Electronic and audio messages were sent to politician­s, journalist­s after 2020 election.


A California man who threatened members of Congress and journalist­s regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidenti­al election has been sentenced to three years in prison, federal prosecutor­s said Tuesday.

Robert Lemke previously pleaded guilty to making threatenin­g interstate communicat­ions, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.

Lemke, 36, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term, prosecutor­s said.

“Rather than attempting to effect change through the lawful forms of expression that all of us Americans still enjoy, Lemke sought to quell freedom of expression, to intimidate and instill fear in others by threats of violence,” U.S. Atty. Damian Williams said. “Today, [he] was rightly sentenced to prison for his conduct.”

According to court documents and statements made during public proceeding­s, he sent threatenin­g electronic and audio messages to about 50 people from November 2020 through early January 2021, prosecutor­s said.

Lemke chose targets, prosecutor­s said, whose statements reflected the truth: that then-President Trump had lost the 2020 election.

According to authoritie­s, he told people to “be ready for war” in a post to Facebook on Nov. 7, 2020, the day that most national media organizati­ons called the race for Joe Biden.

“Trump has refused to cede,” he wrote. “Evidence shows fraud occurred and the Supreme Court cases will be successful. We blockchain­ed and watermarke­d ballots in 16 states. Trump will prevail. Spread this message. … FAITH my fellow Republican­s. Do not give up.”

As the Jan. 6 insurrecti­on unfolded at the U.S. Capitol, Lemke sent a series of threatenin­g text messages to journalist­s, members of Congress, other politician­s and their families, prosecutor­s said.

A text message to a New York City-based relative of a journalist stated: “[The journalist’s] words are putting you and your family at risk. We are nearby, armed and ready. Thousands of us are active/retired law enforcemen­t, military, etc. That’s how we do it.”

Around the same time, he also threatened the brother of a New York congressma­n, prosecutor­s said.

“Your brother is putting your entire family at risk with his lies and other words,” the message read. “We are armed and nearby your house. You had better have a word with him. We are not far from his either. Already spoke to [the congressma­n’s son] and know where his kids are.”

The text messages included a picture of a home in the same neighborho­od as the home of the congressma­n’s brother, prosecutor­s said.

The messages also claimed that a group of active and retired law enforcemen­t officers and military service members were near the congressma­n’s brother’s home and that the group had “armed members,” prosecutor­s said.

Lemke did not have any law enforcemen­t or military affiliatio­n, prosecutor­s said.

Prosecutor­s said he used at least three phone numbers and various electronic accounts to try to hide his identity.

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