Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crime: California Man Arrested for Making Death Threats Against Washington Congressman

CHARLES TURNER HABERMANN, 32, of Palm Springs, California, was arrested by the FBI this morning after being charged by federal criminal complaint with threatening a federal official. HABERMANN is alleged to have made two expletive-laden, threatening phone calls to the Seattle office of Congressman Jim McDermott on December 9, 2010. In the first call recorded on the office answering system, HABERMANN threatens to kill Congressman McDermott, his friends and family. In the second call HABERMANN says he will hire someone to put Congressman McDermott “in the trash.” HABERMANN was interviewed by the FBI on December 10, 2010, regarding the calls to Congressman McDermott, and another threatening call made to a California congresswoman. HABERMANN is expected to make his initial appearance today on the 3:00 p.m. calendar in federal court in Riverside, California.

“We are blessed to live in a country that guarantees and protects the freedom to disagree with our government and speak our minds. That protection, however, does not extend to threats or acts of violence. Those actions are intended to silence debate, not further it. They instill fear not just in the immediate victims, but in many who might hold the same views or take the same course. Such threats are crimes, and the individuals who make them must be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.

In the voice mail messages, HABERMANN stated he had seen Congressman McDermott on television. In the messages, he disparages and threatens Congressman McDermott and other Democrats for their views on tax cuts and unemployment insurance. On the voice mail messages, HABERMANN threatens to kill Congressman McDermott in an effort to impede, intimidate, and interfere with his vote on the tax cut proposal in December 2010.

HABERMANN was investigated in March 2010, for similar conduct involving threats to a California assembly person. In that instance, HABERMANN went to the assembly person’s office to discuss the health care bill and was escorted out. Following the office meeting, HABERMANN left two threatening voice mail messages. HABERMANN was interviewed by the California Highway Patrol, and was issued a warning about his threatening conduct.

Threatening a federal official is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mike Dion.

United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Washington