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Washington man charged with leaving more than 400 threatening voicemails for members of Congress

The 48-year-old left voicemails for numerous lawmakers threatening bodily harm. He is due in court in Tacoma on Thursday.
Visitors at the top of stairs near the Visitors Center at the United States Capitol on Oct. 5, 2022.
Visitors at the top of stairs near the Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 5.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — A Washington state man has been charged with seven counts of making interstate threats after he was accused of leaving more than 400 voicemails over two years for members of Congress.

Mark Leonetti, 48, of Longview, was arrested Wednesday after a criminal complaint was filed Monday by the Justice Department. He is due to appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Thursday.

Leonetti left more than 400 voicemails last year at the office phone numbers for numerous senators and representatives of both political parties, according to the criminal complaint. The voicemails were "not always coherent," an FBI agent investigating the case said, but they made references to murder or killing.

None of the lawmakers was identified by name in the complaint.

Despite "being visited and warned several times by law enforcement and mental health professionals," the Justice Department said, Leonetti continued his threatening behavior this year.

"So we’re going to barbecue your ass. We’re going to peel your ass inside out," Leonetti said in one of seven voicemails he left for a lawmaker in September, prosecutors said.

In one of 32 voicemails Leonetti left for a senator over three days in September, he is alleged to have said: "Well, so I’m gonna murder you. It is justified."

And in October, he left four voicemails for another lawmaker in which he said: "Jew mouth. Jew blood. We need to get you back to Israel so we can kill you there."

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in a statement: “Making horrific and graphic threats to harm is always unacceptable, and we must always take threats of political violence seriously. In this instance, Mr. Leonetti refused to stop his conduct despite contact with law enforcement and mental health personnel."

The most recent calls Leonetti made were to a senator's office on Dec. 5, which included statements about murder and killing people, the Justice Department said.

It said making interstate threats is punishable by up to five years in prison. The case is being investigated by the FBI with assistance from the U.S. Capitol Police and the Longview Police Department.

Many lawmakers have faced threats in recent years, especially since the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, including retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who is on the House Jan. 6 committee. The husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Paul Pelosi, was brutally attacked with a hammer after a man broke into their San Francisco home in October with, authorities said, the goal of trying to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, who was in Washington at the time.