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A 56-year-old man has pled guilty to sending death threats to state and federal health officials, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci, MD, and former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD.
Thomas Patrick Connally Jr used an anonymous email account and an email encryption service based in Switzerland to send threatening emails to the officials over a 6-month period, from December 2020 to July 2021, according to the Maryland US Attorney’s Office, which announced the plea agreement on May 23.
Connally, a former Maryland resident who currently lives in Snowshoe, West Virginia, faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.
Because of an onslaught of threats related to Fauci’s leading role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the NIAID director had started receiving protective services in March 2020. Those services included monitoring of calls, emails, and letters sent to Fauci.
On December 28, 2020, Fauci — who is also the chief medical advisor to the president — received the first two of many emails from Connally’s anonymous account. The subject line for both was, “Hope you get a bullet in your compromised satanic skull today,” according to the July 2021 arrest warrant for Connally.
Those two and all subsequent emails were full of expletives and threats of physical harm to Fauci and his family. “You and your entire family will be dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire,” Connally wrote in one.
“I would encourage you to just blow your own [expletive] brains out, because you and your entire family of dog [expletive] are about to be dragged into the street and slaughtered,” he wrote in another email.
Connally also espoused the view that Fauci was profiting from the sale of drugs to treat HIV and that Fauci had engaged in fraud during the AIDS epidemic.
The emails to Collins are barely printable; they mostly railed against what he believed was Collins’ endorsement of “mandatory vaccines” for COVID-19 and threatened violent harm against him, his wife, and his daughters. The subject of one was, “six mandatory shots in your head.”
Connally also admitted sending threats of physical violence and death in November 2020 to the state email address for Rachel Levine, MD, who was at the time secretary of health for the State of Pennsylvania.
In August 2020, Connally also stated in his plea agreement that he threatened physical violence and death against a Massachusetts public health official, and in April 2021, he threatened four individuals who worked for a religious institution in Newark, New Jersey.
A US District Court judge will sentence Connally on August 4.
Alicia Ault is a Lutherville, Maryland-based freelance journalist whose work has appeared in publications including JAMA, Smithsonian.com, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. You can find her on Twitter @aliciaault.