Air force veteran who threatened to 'hang' Barack Obama and kill Maxine Waters jailed for four years
61-year-old Stephen J. Taubert, of Syracuse, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for making threats towards the former president and the California congresswoman. During his sentencing, Taubert lay the blame for his behavior on social media.
A man who was convicted by a jury of making death threats towards former US President Barack Obama, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters and her staff has been sentenced to close to four years in jail.
According to a press release by the Department of Justice, 61-year-old Stephen J. Taubert, of Syracuse, was sentenced on Tuesday, April 30, by Chief US District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby to serve 46 months in prison. Suddaby also ordered Taubert to pay a $1,000 fine and announced that his jail term would be followed by a three-year term of supervised release.
In June 2017, Taubert, who said he was a veteran of the US Air Force, made several telephone calls to the Washington D.C. office of then-Minnesota Senator Al Franken. In two of those calls, Taubert stated he was planning to go to the capital city the next day to "hang" former president Obama at his home and to kill him. While making these threats, he reportedly used vile racial slurs directed towards Obama.
His threat to Waters came after the California congresswoman was involved in a high-profile feud with the Trump administration. After she had commended protestors who had hounded and heckled White officials in restaurants over the administration's controversial 'zero tolerance' immigration policy, she asked them to "show up" wherever they had to, "create a crowd" and “push back."
Conservatives claimed her call to action had a physical connotation which amounted to inciting assault, with President Trump slamming Waters on Twitter for calling for "harm" to his supporters. A month or so later, in July 2018, Taubert called the Los Angeles office of the congresswoman to threaten her.
He is said to have stated he would be at every event the Congresswoman attended and that he would kill her and every member of her staff. He also once again used vile racial slurs towards Waters and her staff, slurs that he repeated to officers when they asked him about the call.
Prosecutors said during his trial that the 61-year-old had a history of making threatening phone calls dating back as far back as 2013 when he said he would burn down the NAACP building in Baltimore.
Evidence introduced him included a recorded interview during which he made racist statements and an admission that he called Congresswoman Waters’s office to "terrorize" her in retaliation for public statements she had made.
The jury eventually returned guilty verdicts on all three counts charged in the indictment and also made specific findings that Taubert selected his victims because of their actual or perceived race, color, or ethnicity, which provides an enhancement under the US Sentencing Guidelines for hate-crime motivation.
During his sentencing, Taubert lay the blame for his behavior on social media. "Probably the worst thing for me is social media," he said. "I should stay off of it. When I hear all these people knocking the president, it upsets me."
While his family and friends insisted he had apologized several times for the calls and was a man who had no intention of following through with his threats, Suddaby noted the 61-year-old had repeatedly made the menacing calls. "They claim he’d never hurt anybody," he said. "Mr. Taubert, you’ve repeatedly hurt people with your words."