Man pleads guilty to threatening Wash. congressman

AP News
|
Posted: May 11, 2011 4:55 PM
Man pleads guilty to threatening Wash. congressman

A California man with a multimillion-dollar trust fund pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge that he threatened to kill U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott over the Washington state Democrat's opposition to extending tax cuts for the wealthy.

Charles Turner Habermann, 32, of Palm Springs, called McDermott's office last December, identified himself by name and telephone number, and proceeded to leave two obscene, four-minute long messages threatening to kill the congressman.

"I don't remember leaving those messages, but I believe those are the facts," he told U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian A. Tsuchida in a deep, slow voice.

Habermann, dressed sharply in a lavender shirt with French cuffs, also admitted leaving a threatening voice mail at the office of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine and having threatened a California Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez in March 2010 _ an incident that earned him a warning from the California Highway Patrol to knock it off.

According to an FBI complaint, Habermann admitted he had been drinking at the time of the calls to McDermott's office and said he'd never do anything to jeopardize his $3 million trust fund. He's free on $300,000 bond pending his sentencing Aug. 8, and one of the conditions of his release has been that he not withdraw more than $12,000 a month from the fund.

Habermann spoke frequently while in court, at one point asking his attorney whether pleading guilty to a felony would cost him his right to make political contributions. After being assured it wouldn't, he entered the plea.

He also told the judge he is on medication for an anxiety disorder.

The maximum penalty for threatening a federal official is 10 years, but Habermann's guideline sentencing range is expected to be closer to two years.