Texas man who threatened to kill U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters sentenced to 33 months in prison

Updated
Al Drago

The Texas man who was indicted last year and accused of threatening to kill Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., in a series of phone calls has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, federal officials announced Monday.

Brian Michael Gaherty, 61, of Houston, was sentenced Monday and fined $10,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

The office also noted that U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner found Gaherty specifically targeted Waters, who is Black, because of her race and therefore added a hate-crime enhancement to his sentence.

Joseph Vinas, a lawyer representing Gaherty, said in a comment to NBC News that his client was "very apologetic for what occurred," adding that it is his "sincerest belief that, but for the mental health condition he currently suffers as a result of being a victim of violent crime himself, this never would have occurred."

Gaherty offered Waters, who was in court for the sentencing Monday, "a heartfelt plea for her forgiveness and apologized to her and all those who were affected by his comments," Vinas said.

In January, Gaherty pleaded guilty to a count of threatening a United States official, the U.S. attorney's office said. In his plea agreement, Gaherty admitted to threatening to assault and murder Waters four times in August and November 2022.

According to federal officials, "Gaherty made these threats with the intent to impede, intimidate, and interfere with Waters while she was engaged in the performance of her official duties."

The four occasions were all through voicemail, which Gaherty left on Waters' district office phone in Los Angeles County, officials said. In each of the four voicemails, Gaherty posed a violent threat and used profanity, as well as racist and misogynistic language.

In the August 2022 incidents, Gaherty threatened to "put a cap" between Waters' eyes, "cut [her] throat" and "stomp" her, officials said.

Authorities contacted Gaherty in October 2022 and warned him to leave Waters alone. But a few weeks later, he continued to leave threatening messages on her office phone.

Gaherty left two more voicemails in November 2022, telling Waters that she "done [expletive] up" because she reported his previous threats to law enforcement and added that "this ain't no threat. It's a ... promise," according to officials.

In those calls, he also threatened Waters that he would meet her "on the street" and "get in [her] face," telling her "you better watch your back," prosecutors said. Gaherty also repeatedly warned Waters that he had a "crowd" nearby that could harm her.

Gaherty was arrested and indicted in August 2023 on eight counts related to the threats — four counts of making threats in interstate communications and four counts of threatening a U.S. official.

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