A man was arrested at his Southern California home on Friday after federal prosecutors said he made more than 10,000 harassing phone calls to government offices — including death threats that targeted congressional staffers.
Robert Stahlnecker, a 48-year-old from Twentynine Palms in San Bernardino County, made all of those harassing phone calls between January and November of this year, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California said in a news release.
Within just five minutes on Aug. 28, Stahlnecker made three calls to the office of a congresswoman in San Mateo, California, prosecutors said, adding that he “berated the intern who answered the call, using vulgar language to insult her, and finally, threatened” to come kill the intern.
“I’m coming to your f-----g office and I’m going to kill you, f--- you” Stahlnecker said on the call, according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Friday and obtained by McClatchy news group.
But that congressional office wasn’t his only target, prosecutors said: Stahlnecker is also accused of making eight phone calls in seven minutes to the Washington, D.C., office of a senator from Ohio on Sept. 26 — again berating an intern, using vulgar language and threatening to come kill her in the office.
“I am going to come to your office and kill you, you miserable little c--t,” Stahlnecker told that intern, according to the complaint.
An investigator spoke with offices Stahlnecker frequently harassed and learned that he would often complain about a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Loma Linda, California, “and then launches into profanity-laced, obscene, and offensive tirades,” the complaint said.
During the August calls to the San Mateo congresswoman’s office, Stahlnecker complained of malpractice at the Loma Linda hospital, which a staffer noted was outside the congresswoman’s district. Then Stahlnecker “stated that if he was an illegal, the congresswoman would be happy to help him,” the complaint said.
The congresswoman’s office reported the death threat to law enforcement, but her staff still carries photos of Stahlnecker to events the congresswoman attends in case he shows up, according to the complaint.
On the phone with the intern from the Ohio senator’s office in September, Stahlnecker grew angry when an intern wouldn’t reveal her name, explaining that he was “keeping a list of the b----es that hang up on him,” the complaint said.
With other staffers, he said members of Congress and their employees should “be hung for treason,” according to the complaint.
He usually declines to give his name over the phone, according to the complaint.
Stahlnecker faces charges of threatening federal officers and employees, interstate communications with threat to injure a person, and anonymous telecommunications harassment, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said U.S. Capitol Police have been investigating Stahlnecker since 2009 or earlier, with 41 investigations into calls he’s made harassing more than 50 different elected officials.
“Stahlnecker has criminal convictions for harassment in New Jersey and making terroristic threats with intent to terrorize in Pennsylvania,” prosecutors said. “In 2015, he was convicted in in federal court in Riverside of impeding the operations of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by making thousands of telephone calls to the VA — including its suicide prevention line — but that conviction was later overturned on appeal.”
Stahlnecker appeared in court in Riverside on Friday but remains in federal custody, according to prosecutors. He’s set to appear in court again on Dec. 26.