SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man will serve three months in prison for making threatening phone calls to Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Joseph Morelli, 51, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Syracuse after pleading guilty in February to threatening Greene in several calls to her Washington, D.C., office in 2022.
Prosecutors said Morelli left a voicemail at Greene's office on March 3, 2022 stating, “I’m gonna have to take your life into my own hands … I’m gonna hurt you. Physically, I’m gonna harm you.”
On the same day, Morelli left a second message threatening to "pay someone 500 bucks to take a baseball bat and crack your skull," prosecutors said.
Morelli, of Endicott, New York, was indicted a month after the calls on three counts of transmitting interstate threatening communications.
He was sentenced to three months for each count, which will run concurrently.
Greene argued in court papers that Morelli should pay her $66,632 in restitution because the threats forced her to add more than 1,200 feet of fencing at her Georgia home and upgrade security cameras.
Judge Brenda Sannes deferred a decision on the restitution.
The Post-Standard of Syracuse reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick argued in court Thursday that although Morelli didn’t purchase a gun or car to drive to Georgia to act on his threats, he could have.
Southwick said Morelli has threatened others in the past and was “seeking confrontation with an authority figure.”
Morelli’s lawyer, Gabrielle DiBella of the federal public defender's office, told the judge that he has expressed remorse for his actions.
DiBella, who has attributed Morelli's crimes to bipolar disorder, said her client “is now doing everything in his power to work with treatment providers and minimize the struggles that he faces due to his mental health diagnosis.”
A message seeking comment on Morelli's sentence was sent to Greene's office on Friday.