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New York man gets prison sentence for threatening Republican House member

 August 27, 2023

A New York man named Joseph Morelli, has been sentenced to three months in prison for making threatening phone calls to Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14).

The 51-year-old Endicott, New York man pleaded guilty in February to making seven threatening calls to Greene's Washington, D.C., office between March 3-4, 2022, according to The Post-Standard of Syracuse. He has until October 2 to turn himself in, as Fox News reported.

Threatening voicemails

On March 3, 2022, Morelli left a voicemail at Greene's office stating:

I’m gonna have to take your life into my own hands … I’m gonna hurt you. Physically, I’m gonna harm you.

He also left a second message that same day threatening to "pay someone 500 bucks to take a baseball bat and crack your skull."

In a third message, Morelli stated:

You’re gonna cause people to get hurt, so I’m gonna have to hurt you physically … I’m gonna make sure that, even if they lock me up, someone’s gonna get you ‘cause I’ll pay them, too.

Request for restitution

Greene asked the judge to order Morelli to pay her $66,632 in restitution because the threats required her to add more than 1,200 feet of fencing and upgrade security cameras at her home in Georgia.

However, Judge Brenda Sannes deferred a decision on the restitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick argued in court that while Morelli did not purchase a firearm or car to drive to Georgia to follow through on his threats, he could have.

Southwick said Morelli had previously threatened others, including former Judge Joseph J. Cassata, and was "seeking confrontation with an authority figure."

Southwick argued that sentencing Morelli would deter him and others from making threats again and that Morelli should be held accountable for his crimes.

Defense arguments

Morelli’s lawyer, Gabrielle DiBella of the federal public defender’s office, told the judge that her client had expressed remorse for his actions.

DiBella attributed Morelli's threats to his bipolar disorder and stated that her client is actively collaborating with healthcare professionals to mitigate the challenges associated with his mental health condition.

DiBella said Morelli made the threats after coming across videos of Greene during a time when his health was deteriorating, and he was not in the best state of mind.

Two of the videos were of Greene confronting a Parkland shooting survivor, which DiBella said led Morelli to believe that Greene pushed hatred.

One video was an ad Greene made for a gun giveaway and impeaching President Joe Biden.

Social security concerns

DiBella argued that if Morelli served time in prison, he would lose his Social Security benefits and apartment and would have nowhere to go after his release.

The judge said she understood that Morelli's threats were because of his mental health struggles, but the messages were still frightening and scared Greene's family.

Judge Sannes said the lack of evidence showing Morelli’s intent to harm Greene or carry out the threats was taken into account.

Conclusion

  • A New York man, Joseph Morelli, has been sentenced to three months in prison for making threatening phone calls to Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
  • Morelli left voicemails threatening to harm Greene physically and to pay someone to hurt her.
  • Greene asked for $66,632 in restitution for security upgrades at her home, but the judge deferred the decision.
  • Morelli's lawyer argued that his actions were due to his bipolar disorder and deteriorating health.
    The judge acknowledged Morelli's mental health struggles but noted that the messages frightened Greene's family.