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Man pleads guilty to threatening to kill CDC head

Robert Wiser Bates, 39, threatened to kill CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in voicemails left in July 2021 at the agency's headquarters in Atlanta, court records said.
Rochelle Walensky Centers For Disease Control and Prevention at a press conference in Washington.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, in Washington on Sept. 14. Cliff Owen / AP
/ Source: Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi man who threatened to kill Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky has pleaded guilty to making threats in interstate commerce, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

Robert Wiser Bates, 39, of Ridgeland, threatened to kill Walensky in voicemails left in July 2021 at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, court records said.

Bates admitted to making the threatening calls in an interview with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a news release from office the U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca. He also said he would kill Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the president.

In August, a West Virginia man was sentenced to three years in federal prison after he sent emails threatening Fauci and another federal health official for talking about the coronavirus and efforts to prevent its spread.

Bates is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Bates’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.