The U.S. Attorneys Office charged a Syracuse man with calling an upstate New York congressman and threatening he and his family’s lives over his support for the FCC’s highly controversial plans to eliminate net neutrality rules.

Patrick D. Angelo, 28, is accused of calling the Washington D.C., office of Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, on Oct. 17 and leaving a voicemail that threatened Katko and his family should he not support current net neutrality regulations put in place during the Obama administration. Net neutrality has sparked a nationwide debate on internet access as President Trump-appointed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai looks to remove regulations that would give equal speed and access to streaming videos and other services to anyone with an internet connection.

According to a statement from the FCC and documents released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Angelo called Katko’s office and told him to support net neutrality and reject the FCC’s current move to hand control over telecommunications giants such as Comcast or Verizon.

““Listen Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you. But if you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill … you … all. Do you understand?” Angelo told Katko in a voicemail, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

The lengthy rant on the voicemail continued, " 'I will literally find all … of … you and your progeny and t- (sic) just wipe you from the face of the Earth. Net neutrality is more important than the defense of the United States. Net neutrality is more important than free speech. Net neutrality is more important than health care. Net neutrality is literally the basis of the new society. That even if you don’t understand, how important it is, net neutrality is literally the basis of the new … free … society. So if you don’t support it, I am willing to lay down my li-' (recording ends).”

Rep. Katko’s office reported the voicemail to the U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section, who were then able to trace the message back to Angelo’s phone number, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former executive attorney at Verizon, released a statement Thursday condemning the alleged threats against the Republican congressman.

"Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against a Syracuse man for allegedly threatening to kill Congressman John Katko and his family if he did not support net neutrality," the statement reads. "I condemn in the strongest possible terms any attempts to intimidate government officials with violent threats, and in particular, efforst to target their families. I would also like to express my sympathy to Congressman Katko and his family and thank law enforcement officials for taking this matter seriously."

Pai first announced the initial version of his plan on April 26 to eliminate net neutrality rules. Since that time, Pai has finalized his repeal plan, and the FCC will vote to drop the rules on Dec. 14. But as Ars Technica reports, the controversial move has seen wavering from Pai and the FCC, including their deletion of major parts of the "pledge" to offering "open internet."




 

“When asked about net neutrality, Angelo stated that it is “all about telecom companies tiering internet service providers (ISP) to provide faster service to certain companies,” according to U.S. Attorney’s Office documents.