A man who has been living at Snowshoe, Pocahontas County, pleaded guilty this week to making threats against public officials, saying Dr. Anthony Fauci and his family would be “dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.”
He could face up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing is set for 11:30 a.m. August 4 before U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis of Maryland.
Thomas Patrick Connally, 56, admitted in federal court to making threats against a federal official, specifically for sending emails threatening harm to Fauci, the current director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, which is located in Maryland.
Fauci has been one of the leading figures in America’s response to covid-19, advocating for precautions such as widespread vaccination. He has been subject of intense criticism from the right wing.
Connally is accused of using an encrypted email service to send threats to Fauci, as well as to additional public health officials from December 28, 2020 to July 25, 2021.
The first emails sent to Fauci were titled, “Hope you get a bullet in your compromised satanic skull today.” A later email was titled “6 mandatory shots to your disgusting elf skull.” And yet another was labeled “Cutting your scalp off and sewing it onto a rat.”
The emails were sent from an encrypted service based in Switzerland and came from email@example.com. Investigators determined the account was first registered on Feb. 4, 2018.
Investigators tracked and identified Connally through the Protonmail account’s interactions with other services registered to him, including an Instagram account.
The investigators said that Instagram account, which had the similar user name “Naturtheater Alhena” was created on May 14, 2020, from an Internet Protocol address associated with a property Connally had been renting.
That was a cabin at Snowshoe, a West Virginia resort popular with skiers.
On April 27, 2020, Connally executed an extension of his cabin rental using the same IP address that had been used to create the Instagram account, another connection used to identify him.
Investigators identified additional, separate email accounts used by Connally that sent information like passwords back and forth to the same Protonmail account that was used to threaten Fauci.
In one case, the Protonmail account was used to forward a list of jobs in a search for technical writer positions.
“On July 27, 2021, law enforcement executed search warrants at Connally’s rental residence in Snowshoe, West Virginia, as well as on his vehicle,” according to his plea agreement.
There, investigators seized several electronic devices, including MacBook Pro laptops that had the firstname.lastname@example.org linked to an Apple user account.