A Twentynine Palms man has been sentenced to a year in federal prison after being convicted on multiple charges stemming from harassing and threatening phone calls made to government offices, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.
Robert Eric Stahlnecker, 48, was found guilty of one count of making threats by interstate commerce and five counts of anonymous telecommunication harassment after a two-day trial in February, according to a DOJ news release. Jurors acquitted him on two counts of threatening federal employees.
Stahlnecker made harassing telephone calls to government offices, and threatened to injure congressional staffers and kill an intern who answered the telephone calls, federal prosecutors said in the release.
He called various government agencies and elected officials more than 10,000 times between January and November 2019. Of those, 3,600 were to the Veterans Affairs complaint line, and 2,500 were to California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.
In one instance, on Sept. 26, 2019, the defendant dialed the Washington D.C. office of Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown eight times in a span of seven minutes, according to testimony presented at the trial.
“During the calls, Stahlnecker berated the intern who answered the call, insulted the intern by using vulgar language and, finally, threatened to come to the senator’s office to kill her,” the DOJ release read.
Between September and November of that year, he made “multiple abusive telephone calls” to congressional staffers and interns, prosecutors said.
Stahlnecker was arrested last December. He has prior convictions for similar offenses dating back more than a decade.
“Since 2007…Stahlnecker has been convicted five times for verbally abusing and threatening government employees,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum, according to the release. “The convictions in this case represent a small fraction of defendant’s decade-long campaign to abuse and threaten government employees.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Office of Inspector General.