Nov. 24, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A Ridgewood man has been sentenced to 19 months in prison for making online threats to kill Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Chuck Schumer and other leading Democrats.
Brendan Hunt, 37, was sentenced at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn Monday after calling for the death and public executions of Ocasio-Cortez, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a series of online posts and videos he made in December and January – following the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Hunt was found guilty in a jury trial in April where the court also heard evidence that he demanded his online followers take up arms and violently overthrow the federal government as he claimed the election had been “rigged.”
“Get your guns, show up to D.C., and literally just spray these m—–f—–s . . . put some bullets in their f——g heads,” he said in a video posted online on Jan. 8. “If anybody has a gun, give me it, I’ll go there myself and shoot them and kill them.”
Hunt had pleaded not guilty to the charges and his conviction carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said that such crimes would be investigated and vigorously prosecuted.
“[This] sentence sends a clear message that those who seek to harm our representatives and bring chaos to our democracy will be punished,” Peace said.
“We will not tolerate threats to members of the United States Congress or calls to overthrow our democratically elected government.”
The case was the first trial to address the consequences of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, prosecutors said, although Hunt did not attend the riot.
Hunt’s Jan. 8 video was titled “Kill Your Senators,” and was posted two days after violent rioters storming the Capitol building in Washington D.C.
In the video, Hunt encouraged viewers to storm the Capitol a second time — but with guns. He suggested killing legislators during the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
“[W]e need to go back to the U.S. Capitol when all of the Senators and a lot of the Representatives are back there, and this time we have to show up with our guns,” he said. “And we need to slaughter these m—–f—–s.”
Hunt made a series of social media posts between Dec. 6 and Jan. 8 where he labeled Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi and Schumer as “high-value target[s],” according to the criminal complaint.
“They really need to be put down,” Hunt posted. “These commies will see death before they see us surrender.”
He also called on former President Donald Trump to hold public executions of the congress members in another post.
Hunt defended his actions during the trial by telling the jury that he didn’t think anyone would take his rants seriously and also blamed some of his rhetoric on drug use.
Prosecutors also alleged that Hunt espoused white supremacist and anti-Semitic views based on his social media accounts, as well as videos, text messages, emails, and other documents downloaded from his electronic devices.
In a statement to the court Monday, Hunt criticized prosecutors for portraying him as “some neo-Nazi white supremacist,” the New York Times reported. Hunt called it “lazy rhetoric” and said the prosecution’s case was “based on fear.”
He also apologized to his family and said he was “truly sorry” for how he expressed his anger. He is the son of a retired New York City family court judge.
“I felt, for a long time, powerless to push back on what I saw as unfairness in the way conservatives were treated,” Hunt said.
He said that his actions were “terribly misguided” and “wrong,” for which he has paid a “heavy price.”
At the time of his arrest in January, Hunt was a full-time employee of the New York State Office of Court Administration where he worked as an assistant court analyst in the state’s Attorney Registration Unit.
He was also a part-time actor and filmmaker, according to court documents.
It was also revealed that Hunt had shared a cell with disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for a few weeks over the summer.