WASHINGTON – Rep. Ilhan Omar asked that a federal judge show "compassion” when sentencing the man who threatened to kill her.
Patrick W. Carlineo Jr., 55, pleaded guilty Monday for threatening to assault and murder a United States official, and for being in possession of firearms, a Department of Justice statement says.
These charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine.
Omar wrote to Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci that she acknowledges the crimes Carlineo pleaded guilty to are “grave” and were a “threat against an entire religion, at a time of rising hate crimes against religious minorities in our country.”
But she questions, “who are we as a nation if we respond to the threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves?” and argues that a severe sentence would not “rehabilitate him.”
“A punitive approach to criminal justice will not stop criminals like Mr. Carlineo from committing a crime again or prevent others from committing similar acts,” Omar penned. “Only restorative justice can do that. He should understand the consequences of his actions, be given the opportunity to make amends and seek redemption.”
Sharing my full letter on the the sentencing of Patrick W. Carlineo, a man convicted of threatening my life.— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) November 19, 2019
We must apply a system of compassion to criminal justice.
Who are we as a nation if we respond to threats of political retribution with retribution ourselves? pic.twitter.com/s96jjh8AlD
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, Carlineo called Omar’s DC office in March and asked a staffer if they “worked for the Muslim Brotherhood?"
“Why are you working for her, she’s a (expletive) terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. Back in the day, our forefathers would have put a bullet in her (expletive).” The staff member recalled Carlineo saying, “I’ll put a bullet in her (expletive) skull.”
After the call, the threat was referred to the Threat Assessment Section of the United States Capitol Police who began an investigation in coordination with the FBI. He was arrested in April.
Omar was one of the first two Muslim women elected to the United States House of Representatives.
Carlineo told investigators that he was a “patriot, he loves the President, and that he hates radical Muslims in our government.” His sentencing before Judge Geraci is scheduled for Feb. 14, 2020.
"If we truly want to prevent crimes like Mr. Carlineo's, we must address the root causes of these crimes,"Omar added. "The desire to commit violence is not inherent in people. People who threaten or commit violence are often themselves the victims of systemic alienation and neglect. They seek violence because they are taught violence. We must address the systemic alienation through community reintegration and social services."
Carlineo, a previously convicted felon, possessed a loaded .45-caliber handgun, three rifles, two shotguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition at his home in Addison, New York, prosecutors said. Having been convicted in 1998 of criminal mischief, he was legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Her letter drew praise from Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States whom Omar has endorsed.
I agree with Representative Ilhan Omar: The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion. https://t.co/zHwTHAusVt— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 19, 2019
Omar wrote, "We must teach the defendant love. For this reason, I do not believe the defendant would be served by a severe prison sentence or substantial financial fine and ask you to show compassion in your sentencing."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rep. Ilhan Omar: Mercy for man who threatened life