Paul Hoeffer, 60, was ordered by a federal judge to spend 18 months behind bars, which is at the lower end of the 15 years court documents indicate he could have faced for the three felony charges of making interstate threats through phone calls to the two Democrats, as well as to a Chicago-based district attorney.
Hoeffer pleaded guilty to calling Pelosi in March 2019 and threatening to come “a long, long way” to rattle her with bullets and cut her head off “Jihadist style,” according to the documents. He also warned the House speaker to “sleep with one eye open.” That same day, he said he called Kim Foxx, a high-profile prosecutor in Chicago, and threatened to “rattle her brain” with bullets. He also hurled a slew of violent threats and a racial slur at Foxx, who is black.
The FBI initially responded to these threats by visiting his home and warning him not to call members of Congress. Hoeffer apologized to authorities and promised not to do it again, according to court documents.
However, a year and a half later, Hoeffer made calls to Ocasio-Cortez, threatening to “rip her head off” and issuing a similar warning to sleep with one eye open.
The number of threats against members of Congress has risen over the last few years, with Capitol Police reporting a 107% increase in 2021 compared to the year before. As the Capitol looks to reopen, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger told Congress the force would need more officers to fill all the security posts.
The agency has about 1,850 officers but needs about 300 more to be staffed fully, Manger said. However, he said he hopes to see the Capitol grounds mostly reopened by the end of the summer.