A federal judge has sentenced a California man to jail for sending dozens of racist death threats to anti-Trump politicians.
In a rare move, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg rejected the Department of Justice's recommendation of probation, and sentenced 71-year-old Michael Anthony Gallagher to four months behind bars.
Gallagher "spent some four years sending dozens of racist death threats on personalized, handmade postcards," the Mercury News reported Friday.
He pleaded guilty in August to mailing a threatening postcard, signed "KKK," to California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who is Black.
Gallagher's threat to Waters was among at least 75 he sent to politicians across the country who were critical of former president Donald Trump.
“We’re going to hang your head off the Washington Monument, you piece of Communist (expletive)," Gallagher once wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He also threatened to shoot Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Nevertheless, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Tartakovsky recommended a term of one year of probation.
“This is based on a number of factors, beginning with Mr. Gallagher’s prompt admission of guilt and genuine contrition, which includes his statement to an agent after the search of his house that he had been ‘scared straight,’" Tartakovsky wrote. “Other factors include his age, his lack of a prior record, the absence of evidence that he had any intent actually to carry out any of his threats, his insignificant likelihood of re-offending, and the sufficiency of the conviction itself to provide general and specific deterrence.”
In an apology letter, Gallagher wrote: “Throughout the last presidency, I was impacted by the political polarization of our country. That’s when I started on the reproachable path of mailing threatening postcards, for which I am painfully sorry and ashamed. I think I believed I was sending a message about my political views. But now I realize that these views and my conduct were terribly misguided and shameful.”
Gallagher is scheduled to report to jail in March after being sentenced in December. A transcript from his sentencing hearing wasn't available, the newspaper reported.
On Friday, the Riverfront Times reported that a Missouri man impersonated a police officer to try to "casually" release a friend from prison.
"There's acting like you belong, and then there's the act put on by Chad Michael Gosney, who is accused of trying to impersonate his way into obtaining an inmate's early release from the Jefferson County jail on Thursday," reported Danny Wicentowski. "Gosney, who is not a police officer, showed up the jail in Hilsboro and 'claimed to be an officer picking up an inmate,' the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said in a statement posted to Facebook. 'We let him in,' the statement continued, 'closed the door, and arrested him.'"
According to the report, Gosney was intoxicated while attempting to pull off his prison break.
"Gosney, now in jail on a $10,000 bond, faces a single charge of false impersonation, a misdemeanor," said the report. "However, while Gosney's plan involved freeing a specific inmate, the sheriff's office believes that Gosney acted on his own, writing in its Facebook post, 'We do not believe the inmate he was asking for was aware of the attempt to get him out.'"
This comes two weeks after an incident in Crawford County, Missouri in which an inmate escaped by pretending to be scheduled for release.
Twitter has halted enforcement of a policy banning lies about the 2020 election.
"Twitter spokesperson Elizabeth Busby told CNN on Friday that 'since March 2021,' Twitter has not been enforcing its 'civic integrity policy' in relation to lies about the 2020 election," the network reported Friday night. "That was the policy under which the company had suspended or even banned users for lying about the 2020 election, affixed fact-check warning labels to tweets containing such lies and limited others' ability to share those inaccurate tweets."
Busby explained that the policy was only designed to be enforced "during the duration" of the 2020 election, adding that President Joe Biden has been in office for more than a year. However, CNN noted that lies about the 2020 election "continue to play a major role" in U.S. politics.
"Former President Donald Trump continues to relentlessly repeat lies about the 2020 election," the network reported. "And numerous Republican candidates running in 2022 primaries are campaigning on lies about what happened in 2020."
Jesse Lehrich, co-founder of Accountable Tech, said she was surprised and dismayed by Twitter's decision to halt enforcement of the policy.
"I actually praised Twitter when they rolled out a new civic integrity policy in 2021, which prohibits false claims about election results and includes a clear strike system for repeat offenders," said Lehrich, whose nonprofit pushes for reforms at social media companies. "To learn they decided explicitly to stop enforcing it two months later, and told nobody, is infuriating -- especially for a platform that constantly plays up its commitment to transparent decision-making. They've managed to undermine faith in our democracy and their own credibility all at once."
Twitter is stil enforcing a ban on COVID-19 misinformation, which led to its recent ban of Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
However, Busby told CNN that Liz Harrington, a Trump spokeswoman who routinely posts his statements with lies about the 2020 election, is not in violation of Twitter rules. Trump was banned from the platform for inciting the Capitol insurrection.