Man who phoned in threat to Rep. Matt Gaetz is sentenced to home confinement

Francis Chung
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A California man who left a message threatening to kill Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was sentenced to home confinement and fined $10,000 Thursday, prosecutors said.

Eugene Huelsman left the voicemail for Gaetz, R-Fla., on Jan. 9, 2021, three days after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Huelsman, 59, of Thousand Oaks near Los Angeles, said, in part, “I’m gonna put a bullet in you,” and he called Gaetz a “tyrant," according to court documents.

Huelsman pleaded guilty to one count of transmission of a threat in interstate commerce in April.

He was sentenced to six months’ home confinement and five years of probation and fined $10,000, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida said.

Huelsman’s attorney, Curtis Fallgatter, said they were grateful for the sentence and that Huelsman is getting anger management treatment. He has said that Huelsman did not intend the threat to be taken literally and that he “was just outraged about the attack on the Capitol.”

U.S. Attorney Jason R. Coody said in a statement that the sentence “should serve as a significant deterrent to those who would threaten violence against others rather than engage in lawful debate.”

The number of threats or potential threats sent to members of Congress has been increasing for years, according to U.S. Capitol Police. There were around 9,600 in 2021, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger has said. In 2017, there were around 3,900.

A 67-year-old Florida man was sentenced to probation and fined $7,000 this month for an emailed threat to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in 2019.

Others have gotten prison terms. In April, an Alaska man was sentenced to three years in prison for threats to kill the state’s two U.S. senators, and in December a man who threatened to hang lawmakers unless they supported Trump was sentenced to more than two years.