FAIRBANKS – A Delta Junction, Alaska, man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts of threatening to murder a U.S. official, specifically Alaska’s two U.S. Senators.
According to court documents, Jay Allen Johnson, 65, left a voicemail message on September 2, 2021, at the Washington D.C. office of Senator Lisa Murkowski containing several threats, including a threat to “burn” the Senator’s properties. The investigation revealed that the call originated in Delta Junction from a cellular telephone number linked to Johnson. On September 29, Johnson left another voicemail threatening to hire an assassin to kill the U.S. Senator. Johnson also left threatening voicemail messages for Senator Dan Sullivan between April 2021 and September 2021, including one in which he threatened to get his “.50 caliber out,” hold a “GoFundMe page for the …shells,” and to come “with a vengeance mother*cker.” In total, Johnson admitted to leaving 17 threatening voicemails for the two Senators over a five-month period and said that the messages were intended to retaliate against the Senators for performing their official duties.
As part of the plea agreement, Johnson has agreed to the issuance of a three-year federal protective order following his release from federal prison. The protective order will prohibit Johnson from contacting either U.S. Senator, their family or staff members. Johnson faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison for each charge as well as forfeiture of seven firearms, which the FBI discovered in Johnson’s residence during execution of a search warrant. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
“Threatening public officials in an attempt to interfere with the performance of their duties is antithetical to our democratic system of governance,” said U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr. of the District of Alaska. “To protect the functions of our government institutions and our public officials themselves, the Department of Justice will work to ensure our elected officials can serve without fear of harm.”
“The FBI remains steadfast in addressing threats in our communities, including violent threats made against those who are performing their official duties,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Shawn Peters of the FBI Anchorage Field Office. “This case underscores the swift efforts by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners as we worked together to address these threats before any potential acts of violence occurred.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Capitol Police are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Tansey is prosecuting the case.