Man Who Threatened Maxine Waters Gets 33 Months

Brian Gaherty used racist, misogynistic language in calls to Democratic lawmaker
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2024 5:29 PM CDT
Man Who Threatened Maxine Waters Gets 33 Months
Rep. Maxine Waters speaks before the House Financial Services Committee last year.   (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

A Texas man who used racist and misogynistic language in a series of threats to kill Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, plus a $10,000 fine. Houston resident Brian Michael Gaherty, 61, pleaded guilty in January to one count of threatening a US official. Prosecutors said he left four voicemails at Waters' district office in Los Angeles County in 2022, "each of which contained a violent threat, profanity, and racist and misogynistic language."

Prosecutors said US District Judge R. Gary Klausner added a hate-crime enhancement after determining that Gaherty targeted Waters because she is Black, NBC News reports. Prosecutors said authorities told Klausner to stop contacting Waters in October 2022, but he called twice more to threaten her for reporting him to law enforcement, saying, "You better watch your back." In one message, he told a staff member, "Tell Congresswoman Maxine Waters when I see her on the street I'm going to bust her upside her head."

Waters, 85, was in court for the sentencing hearing Monday, Courthouse News Service reports. She said the threats—especially one in which Gaherty said he would cut her throat—had given her nightmares and made her "afraid to be approached by strangers." Gaherty said he had no memory of making the calls. "I'm sorry for what I did," he said to Waters. "As God as my witness. From one Christian to another, I ask for your forgiveness." Gaherty's attorney, Joseph Vinas, said his client suffers from a "complex combination of mental illnesses" and argued that home confinement would be a more appropriate sentence. (More Maxine Waters stories.)

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