A California man who was accused of sending threats to a congressman and multiple journalists has pleaded guilty to one count of making threatening interstate communications.
At his change of plea hearing Friday, Robert Lemke pleaded guilty to the count related to a threat he made to a family member of a New York City-based journalist, saying in court, “I am regretful and I admit what I did was wrong and against the law.”
A prosecutor confirmed that other counts Lemke faced would be dropped at his sentencing, which is scheduled for December 14. Lemke could face between 15 and 21 months in prison, but ultimately it is up to US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein to determine the length of his sentence.
From the Justice Department:
From November 2020 through early January 2021, the defendant sent threatening electronic and audio messages to approximately 50 victims, including journalists and politicians, targeting those individuals as a result of their statements expressing that then-President Trump had lost the 2020 presidential election.
On January 6, 2021, the same day that individuals purporting to protest the 2020 presidential election gathered in Washington, D.C. and stormed the Capitol Building, LEMKE sent a series of these threatening text messages to journalists, members of Congress, other politicians, and their families.
As the attack on the Capitol Building was ongoing, LEMKE sent threatening text messages to a relative of the Journalist, stating: “[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.”
At approximately the same time that LEMKE was sending threats directed at the Journalist, LEMKE also sent threats to the brother of a New York City-based U.S. Congressman (the “Congressman”), citing the Congressman’s statements about the result of the 2020 presidential election.
LEMKE’s text messages, which included a picture of a home in the same neighborhood as the home of the Congressman’s brother, stated:
“Your brother is putting your entire family at risk with his lies and other words. 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.
. . . your words have consequences. Stop telling lies; Biden did not win, he will not be president. We are not white supremacists. Most of us are active/retired law enforcement or military. You are putting your family at risk. We have armed members near your home. Don’t risk their safety with your words and lies.”
LEMKE acquired and used at least three different phone numbers and various electronic accounts to mask his identity when sending threats to his victims. LEMKE was not in fact affiliated with law enforcement or the U.S. military as he claimed in some of his threats.
On or about November 7, 2020, LEMKE posted to Facebook: “Folks. Be ready for war. Trump has refused to cede. 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.”
Robert Lemke charged with threatening a Congressman and journalist.
Lemke told a reporter’s relative that the work is “putting you and your family at risk. We are nearby armed and ready. Thousands of us are active/retired law enforcement, military,” per docs.
Pic: His FB pic.twitter.com/TXejfwSSJu
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) January 26, 2021
UPDATE: In a statement, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries confirmed that he was the unnamed congressman mentioned in the complaint. Robert Lemke allegedly made similar threats to a relative of ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos. https://t.co/A5qkdQcbav
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) January 26, 2021