South Florida man pleads guilty to threatening violence against Nancy Pelosi, AOC

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FORT PIERCE — A 60-year-old Palm Beach Gardens man pleaded guilty Friday to three federal charges of making threats after authorities said he left phone messages with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two other Democratic government officials in which he vowed to shoot or decapitate them.

Paul Vernon Hoeffer pleaded guilty during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce to three counts of interstate transmission of a threat to kidnap or injure. Judge Aileen M. Cannon scheduled his sentencing for April 1.

Hoeffer was arrested in December after authorities alleged that he made threatening phone calls to Pelosi, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Illinois state's attorney Kimberly Foxx of Chicago, all Democrats. The threats were made from locations in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties, according to federal prosecutors.

Hoeffer has a current address in Palm Beach Gardens but previously lived in St. Lucie County, records show. Fort Pierce is the St. Lucie County seat.

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Federal prosecutors alleged that in March 2019, Hoeffer called Pelosi's Washington, D.C., office and left a message in which he "threatened to come a 'long, long way' to rattle her head with bullets and cut her head off," according to court documents.

Authorities said Hoeffer also made multiple calls that month to the office of Foxx, state's attorney for Cook County, Ill., which includes the city of Chicago. Hoeffer's messages included racial slurs — Foxx is Black — and threats that bullets were going to "rattle her brain," authorities said.

In November 2020, he made calls from an unspecified location in Palm Beach County to the New York office of Ocasio-Cortez, authorities said. He reportedly left voice messages stating he would "rip her head off" and warned that Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens in New York City, should sleep with one eye open.

Hoeffer faces up to 15 years in prison, serving as many as five years on each count.

Following his arrest in December, Hoeffer was released on $100,000 bond and placed on home detention. During Friday's hearing, Cannon ordered that Hoeffer stay on detention through the sentencing phase and that his bail conditions remain the same.

jwhigham@pbpost.com

@JuliusWhigham

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Florida man pleads guilty to threatening violence to Pelosi, AOC, others

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