Man charged with threatening to kill member of Congress

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A Maryland man has been charged with making an online threat to kill a member of Congress from Texas, according to a court filing unsealed Wednesday.

Justin Kuchta, 39, of Annapolis, is charged with one count of interstate communication containing a threat to injure, a felony punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the lawmaker’s district office reported that in July, it had received a message on an event management website saying, “Thank you for the address” and then threatening the lawmaker to say the member would be “first on the gallows.” A Justice Department release said that the lawmaker’s office in Washington office had received a similar message a few days earlier.

Kuchta was expected to make his initial court appearance in Baltimore on Wednesday after surrendering to authorities earlier in the day.

“You have the right to your own opinions, but not the right to threaten a federal official’s life,” U.S. Attorney Erek Barron said in a statement.

The court filing doesn’t name the member of Congress whom Kuchta is accused of threatening.

The Internet Protocol address used to send the message was registered to a private, high-speed network operated by the state of Maryland, according to a U.S. Capitol Police special agent’s affidavit. When agents interviewed Kuchta at his Annapolis workplace, he admitted to sending the threatening message while he was working from home on his government-issued computer, the affidavit says.

The court filing does not identify Kuchta’s government employer.

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