Stephen J. Taubert, 61, of Syracuse, won’t get the leniency he begged the court for and was sentenced to almost four years in prison for making threats against of high-profile public figures including Rep Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Barack Obama, NBC News reports.
Taubert was found guilty in March of targeting prominent Black Democratic leaders because of their race. In response, his family insists that he merely “likes to provoke” and cite the First Amendment as protection of what have been deemed crimes.
Syrcause.com reports that Taubert does not have a history of violence and those who are hoping he receives a lighter sentence want the threats to be viewed as just words and not actual plans to harm.
Taubert admitted during his sentence that social media is his downfall.
“Probably the worst thing for me is social media,” Taubert said, according to Syracuse.com. “I should stay off of it. When I hear all these people knocking the president, it upsets me.”
Taubert was handed down a sentence to serve 46 months by a federal judge, followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of New York.
According to a press release released Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith, a jury determined that Taubert set his sights on Obama and Waters because they are black.
“As the trial verdict and sentence, in this case, illustrate, those who spew such vile, violent hatred will be held accountable,” he said.
Taubert’s threats were not limited to President Obama and Rep. Waters. It appears that in the past, he also targeted the Quicken Loans Arena (now known as the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse), the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with a former mayor of Syracuse and an NAACP office.
Court documents reveal a lawyer for Taubert noted that his client has not received steady treatment for his mental illness, and has undiagnosed autism, in addition to diagnosed schizophrenia, anxiety, and adjustment disorder.
A three-day trial in March resulted in the conviction for influencing, impeding or retaliating against a federal official, threat in interstate commerce, and threats against a former president, which could result in a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars. However, it seems more likely that he will receive a lesser sentence of three to five years in prison.
In his phoned threats, Taubert used racial slurs as he stated he would kill Waters and her entire staff. He did the same when he threatened to hang President Obama.