Net neutrality supporter threatens to kill congressman

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) -- A Syracuse man has been charged with threatening to kill a U.S. congressman in an ominous call to the offices of Republican Rep. John Katko in upstate New York.

"Listen, Mr. Katko ... If you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill . . . you . . . all. Do you understand?" Patrick Angelo, 28, allegedly said in a voicemail left at Katko's office last month, according to a criminal complaint against him. "I will literally find all of you and your progeny and just wipe you from the face of the earth."

"Net neutrality is literally the basis of the new... free... society. So if you don't support it, I am willing to lay down my li--" he continued, before the recording was cut off.

Although he at first denied making the calls, the FBI says Angelo later admitted that he contacted the lawmaker because, according to the complaint, he was "upset" about the potential repeal of net neutrality rules, enacted under President Obama, that prohibit internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from slowing or blocking certain websites while prioritizing sites that pay for fast lanes.

If convicted, Angelo faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the Justice Department. An attorney from the public defender's office told ABC News Mr. Angelo declined comment.

Katko's staff reported the voicemail to U.S. Capitol Police, who increased the lawmaker's security inside the beltway, the Justice Department said. FBI agents also notified the New York State Police and local law enforcement, who protect Katko's events in his home district, according to court documents.

"The Congressman and his family appreciate the diligent work of our local, state and federal law enforcement in monitoring these threats and taking appropriate action," Katko's communications director said in a statement.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms any attempts to intimidate government officials with violent threats, and in particular, efforts to target their families," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement, adding that he, too, has been harassed over his efforts to repeal a 2015 net neutrality rule.

A former Verizon attorney, Pai has called net neutrality regulations "heavy-handed" and says repeal could allow internet providers to raise the funds to meet consumer demand for faster, cheaper internet.

But critics of a repeal say it could hamper equal access to all content on the internet while clearing the way for internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and to curb access to some websites.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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