GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) — A 56-year-old man is facing federal charges for sending death threats to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, according to the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Office.

According to the criminal complaint, Thomas Patrick Connally Jr. sent encrypted emails from December 2020 to July 2021 to Dr. Fauci threatening to harm or kill him and his family members.

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According to charging documents, it is unclear where Connally lives, but he was arrested in West Virginia.

In one of the emails, Connally allegedly threatened that Dr. Fauci and his family would be “dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.”

Officials said on April 24, 2021, he sent seven threats to Dr. Fauci. Before those emails, he sent four threats to Dr. Collins.

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When investigators connected the email account to Connally, a warrant was obtained for the emails he sent from the encrypted account.

If convicted, Connally faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for threats against a federal official; and a maximum of five years in federal prison for interstate communication containing a threat to harm.

“We will never tolerate violent threats against public officials,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner.  “Our public health officials deserve our thanks and appreciation for their tireless work, and we will not hesitate to bring charges against those individuals who seek to use fear to silence these public servants.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated that Connolly was from Greenbelt. The article has since been adjusted. 

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CBS Baltimore Staff