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Texas Man Sentenced For Threatening Rep Maxine Waters

 June 19, 2024

A Texas man received nearly three years in federal prison for leaving threatening, racist voicemails for California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters. The court found that Brian Michael Gaherty targeted Waters because of her race, adding a hate-crime enhancement to his sentence.

Brian Michael Gaherty, 61, from Houston, Texas, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and fined $10,000 by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner. Gaherty was convicted of leaving multiple threatening and racist voicemails for Rep. Waters, a prominent African-American congresswoman, Fox News reported.

Threatening Voicemails Lead To Conviction

The Department of Justice cited racial motivation for Gaherty's actions, resulting in a hate crime enhancement to his sentence. Gaherty pleaded guilty on January 29 to threatening a United States official.

In his plea agreement, Gaherty admitted to making threats to assault and murder Rep. Waters four times between August and November 2022. The threats were conveyed in profane and racist voicemails left at Waters' district office in Los Angeles County.

Explicit Threats Detailed In Voicemails

According to U.S. Capitol Police agent Michael Guest's affidavit, Gaherty's voicemails directed highly racist and threatening language at Waters. In August 2022, Gaherty threatened to "put a cap" between Waters' "eyes," "cut [her] throat," and "stomp" her.

Gaherty warned Waters that she "better move" because he and his "boys in the area" had a "contract" on her life. Additionally, he left threatening messages with Waters' staff, indicating he would physically assault her upon seeing her.

Authorities Trace Threatening Calls

Gaherty's unmasked phone number allowed U.S. Capitol Police to trace the calls using data from T-Mobile and TracFone. Despite authorities warning him in October 2022 to cease his actions, Gaherty continued making threats.

In a November 2022 voicemail, Gaherty warned Waters that she had "done [expletive] up" by reporting his threats to law enforcement. Nevertheless, Gaherty persisted in his threatening behavior despite these warnings.

Impact Of Threats On Rep. Waters

In federal court on Monday, Rep. Waters expressed that her family lives "in fear every day" due to Gaherty's threats. She highlighted the increasing targeting of people of color and women of color, which has caused her nightmares and constant fear.

"In court, I stated, 'This growing effort to target people of color and women of color ... has given me nightmares. I am in fear for my life,'" Waters emphasized. Stressing the need for accountability, she further emphasized, "I believe that we must all be held accountable. Nobody is above the law."

Defense Claims PTSD Affected Gaherty

Gaherty's defense attorney, Joe Vinas, argued that Gaherty suffers from severe, chronic PTSD stemming from a violent crime he experienced in 2016. Vinas contended that Gaherty had lived an exemplary life before the incident and attributed his mental health condition to his lapse in memory regarding the threats.

"Mr. Gaherty was himself the victim of a violent crime in 2016 and suffers from an extreme, chronic case of PTSD. Before he was shot and robbed at his own home, he led an exemplary life. If he had not been a crime victim, this case would never have happened," Vinas stated.

Apology And Remorse In Court

In court, Gaherty sincerely apologized to Waters for his actions. According to Vinas, "Congresswoman Waters was present in court Monday, and Mr. Gaherty sincerely apologized to her.

Due to his mental health condition, including PTSD, he did not recall making the comments to her. Nonetheless, he acknowledges his actions and is deeply remorseful."

Gaherty's case underscores the gravity of threats against public officials and the imperative of addressing mental health issues in cases involving criminal behavior.

In summary, Brian Michael Gaherty received a 33-month federal prison sentence for leaving threatening and racist voicemails for Rep. Maxine Waters.

His actions were deemed racially motivated, resulting in a hate crime enhancement. Despite authorities' warnings, Gaherty persisted in his threats, causing significant distress to Waters and her family. His defense attributed his behavior to severe PTSD from a prior violent crime, and he expressed genuine regret during the court proceedings.