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Man who threatened judge in Michael Flynn case gets 18 months in prison

By Tierney Sneed, CNN

Frank Caporusso, a Long Island man who left a threatening voicemail last year for the judge presiding over the Michael Flynn case, was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison.

Caporusso was arrested last August and reached a deal with the government in April in which he pleaded guilty to one count of Influencing, Impeding, or Retaliating Against a Federal Official by Threat.

The sentence was handed down by US District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Donald Trump appointee and colleague of the judge who was threatened, at the federal courthouse in Washington.

McFadden said the threatening message was “nothing less than an attack on our system of government.”

In a May 14, 2020, message left on the voice mailbox for US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, Caporusso threatened that a “hot piece of lead will cut through your skull.”

“Back out of this bulls**t before it’s too late, or we’ll start cutting down your staff. This is not a threat. This is a promise,” Caporusso said on the voicemail.

The voicemail was played during Monday’s sentencing proceedings.

Caporusso showed no emotion when it was played, but later said that he had been “shocked and embarrassed” when he first heard the recording of the message.

A statement from Sullivan was also read during the proceedings by Assistant US. Attorney Rachel Fletcher. Sullivan’s statement said that threat had a “profound impact” on him and his family.

The statement said that Sullivan had taken “unprecedented measures” to protect himself and his family after the threats. Sullivan, who hadn’t previously felt unsafe walking the dog or driving alone, said that he now felt “more circumspect” when he traveled and that he had “drastically limited” his social interactions.

“I feel fear now,” Sullivan, who has served more than 30 years on the bench, said in the statement.

Caporusso’s attorneys had asked the judge to sentence their client for time served for the 11 months he had been in detention since his arrest.
Caporusso and his attorneys said he left the voice message while he in the midst of an alcohol dependency stemming from an opioid withdrawal he was suffering from after an injury.

“I was not thinking well or doing well at the time,” Caporusso said, holding back tears as he described the impact his action had had on his family. He said he wished to “humbly apologize” to Sullivan.

While announcing the sentence, McFadden emphasized not only the effect the threat had on Sullivan — with whom McFadden said he had not discussed the matter — but its impact on Sullivan’s staff, who were also targeted by Caporusso’s threat. He noted the staff had no security protection and asked Caporusso to think of “what went through their minds” when they walked to the Metro after work.

McFadden also discussed the broad context of threats and acts of violence judges nationwide have faced in recent years. While Caporusso wasn’t responsible for the actions of others, McFadden said, his threat “exacerbated” that climate.

“Judicial robes aren’t bulletproof,” the judge said.

Still, McFadden said he had been convinced that Caporusso felt sincere remorse and noted that there was no evidence that Caporusso intended to carry out the threat.

Those and other mitigating factors led McFadden to hand down a sentence lower than he otherwise would have. In addition to the 18 months in prison, Caporusso was sentenced to two years of supervised release during which he is not allowed to use alcohol.

This story has been updated with additional details of the hearing.

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