TAMPA — A Sarasota man who one night three years ago got drunk and sent a disparaging email threatening to kill U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and three other lawmakers was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle also ordered David George Hannon to pay a $7,000 fine, undergo mental health and substance abuse treatment, and to have no contact with the congresswoman.
Although federal sentencing guidelines suggested a low-end sentence of 10 months of incarceration, the judge noted a probation officer recommended no prison time. She also remarked on Hannon’s expressions of remorse, his lack of prior trouble, his age and health problems.
Nevertheless, the judge said, the threat he made was “heinous and inappropriate in every regard.”
“This sort of behavior has no place in our society,” Mizelle said.
Hannon, 67, pleaded guilty in April to a single charge of threatening a federal official. He admitted that he sent an email to Rep. Omar’s campaign in which he disparaged her Islamic faith and told her to leave the country.
Stooped, gray-bearded, his hands trembling, Hannon fought back tears as he described his wife’s death from cancer, a struggle with alcoholism and lashing out in anger.
“I’m very, very sorry and very remorseful about my behavior that night,” he said. “I can’t believe I would do something as heinous as that.”
The email arrived shortly after Rep. Omar participated in a July 16, 2019, news conference with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, all minority women who were then newly elected to congress. The four Democratic lawmakers, known as “The Squad” for their advocacy of progressive policies, were responding to criticism from former President Donald Trump, including comments that the four should “go back” to the “crime-infested places” from which they came.
All four women are American citizens. Omar was born in Somalia and immigrated to the U.S. in 1995.
Hannon saw news of the political sparring and emailed Omar’s campaign.
The subject line read: “Your Dead You Radical Muslim.”
The body of the message was a single-paragraph diatribe, replete with capital letters and misspellings:
“We Are Ready To Carryout Mass Assassinations Against Alquida Radicals That Have Somehow Got Into Our American Political Parties,” it read. “Your Already On The HIT LIST BY OUR AMERICAN PATRIOT ARMY AND THE MOUSAD!”
The message warned Omar to get more security within a week or she and the three other lawmakers would be “six feet under.” It asked if she was “ready to die for Islam” and “get out of our country.”
“YOU WONT HEAR THE BULLET GOING THROUGH YOUR OR THEIR HEADS! ALL FOUR OF YOU CONGRESS WOMEN WILL DIE AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL CHEER! PATRIOTS AGAINST ISLAM! GOD BLESS AMERICA!”
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When Omar’s staff received the message, they notified federal agents. Although the threat was immediately reported, it would be 19 months before FBI agents visited Hannon at his home.
In court Wednesday, the judge questioned why there was a lengthy delay. His attorney, Michael Perry, suggested it was an indication that investigators didn’t think it was a serious threat.
By the time he was questioned, Hannon said he had no memory of the email. He nevertheless admitted it came from him.
“He was doing that because Trump told him to,” his daughter, Elizabeth Hannon Dillon, told the judge. “He was a Trump supporter and now he regrets it.”
Although the congresswoman was named as a victim, she did not attend the sentencing hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Favorit asked for a 10-month prison term, saying Hannon’s conduct was “offensive to our system of government, and, quite frankly, frightening.”
“The text of his email demonstrated that he was motivated by his hatred of Muslims,” Favorit said.
The judge said that Hannon appeared to be acting out of political disagreement with the four congresswomen. She declined to apply a hate crime adjustment to the sentence, which may have increased the sentencing guidelines.
Hannon denied the threat sprung from hatred.
“I do have remorse that I did target Ms. Omar,” he said. “But I don’t have any hatred toward anyone whether their race, creed, color or nationality. This is the United States of America and whatever people do and say, they have a right to do that. But I had no right to write that email.”