Texas man sentenced to prison for threats to Waters

Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — A 61-year-old Texas man has been sentenced to nearly three years behind bars for making a series of phone calls to the Hawthorne office of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and threatening her with violence and death.

Brian Gaherty of Houston was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine along with the 33-month term in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner found that Gaherty targeted Waters because of her race and applied a hate-crime enhancement to Gaherty’s sentence.

Gaherty pleaded guilty in January in downtown Los Angeles to one felony count of threatening a United States official.

Waters herself appeared in court for the sentencing June 17. She said her and her family members live in far every day because of the threats made by Gaherty.

“This growing effort to target people of color and women of color … has given me nightmares,” Waters said. “I am in fear of my life. I believe that we must all be accountable. Nobody is above the law.

“I came here today because I want to understand, I want to know why we have people with that much hatred and that much dislike of people of color,” Waters added.

Outside court, Waters told reporters: “I’m hopeful that this will be a deterrent to those who believe they can threaten an elected official, threaten to kill us and terrorize us. I really think this goes a long way to holding him accountable.”

For his part, Gaherty said he was “sorry this happened” and “I have no hatred in my heart.”

A criminal indictment filed in federal court states that Gaherty called the congresswoman’s office twice in August 2022 and twice in November 2022. Gaherty left four voicemails, each of which contained a threat.

For example, in one of the calls, Gaherty threatened to “cut your throat,” court papers show.

“Threats to harm or kill elected officials are anathema to our nation’s values and must not — and will not — be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “My office and the entire Department of Justice will continue to combat threats against public officials and other attempts to chill democracy.”

Gaherty admitted in his plea agreement to threatening Waters with extreme violence. He made the threats with the intent to impede, intimidate, and interfere with Waters while she was engaged in the performance of her official duties, federal prosecutors said.

Authorities contacted Gaherty and warned him to disengage in October 2022, but a few weeks later he persisted with his threats.

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