Man who texted threats to reporter’s family pleads guilty

NEW YORK (AP) — A California man pleaded guilty Friday to threatening harm in text messages sent during the attack on the Capitol to a New York-based family member of a journalist.

Robert Lemke, 36, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court, where he was charged in January.

Prosecutors alleged that a Jan. 6 text message from Lemke’s phone to the relative of the journalist, whose identity was not disclosed, said the journalist’s words “are putting you and your family at risk.”

The text added: “We are nearby armed and ready. Thousands of us are active/retired law enforcement, military, etc. That’s how we do it,” prosecutors said in court papers.

From November 2020 through early January, Lemke sent threatening electronic and audio messages to approximately 50 people, including journalists and politicians, prosecutors said.

They say he was frustrated with the results of the 2020 presidential election and targeted the people based on statements they made. The Bay Point, California, resident is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14.

“Inevitably, elections result in frustrations for some — that is part of the political process — but trying to instill fear in others by threat will not be tolerated by law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a release.

A plea agreement signed by Lemke recommended that he be sentenced to between 15 months and 21 months in prison.

In the papers, prosecutors noted that Lemke had previously been convicted in state court in Oakland for falsely reporting an emergency, in state court in San Diego for failing to appear on a felony charge and in state court in Livermore, California, for obstructing a police officer. Those convictions occurred between 2011 and 2015.