FAIRBANKS – A Delta Junction, Alaska, man was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline to 32 months in prison and a $5,000 fine after pleading guilty to two counts of threatening to murder Alaska’s two U.S. Senators.
According to court documents, Jay Allen Johnson, 65, left 17 threatening voicemails for Alaska’s two U.S. Senators over a five-month period and said that the messages were intended to retaliate against them for performing their official duties. On September 2, 2021, Johnson left a voicemail at the Washington D.C. office of Senator Lisa Murkowski containing several threats, including a threat to “burn” the Senator’s properties. Johnson then asked if the Senator knew what a .50 caliber shell “does to a human head.” 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*ucker.”
The investigation revealed that the calls originated in Delta Junction, Alaska from a cellular telephone number that the FBI and Capitol Police had traced back to Johnson. The FBI arrested Johnson on October 4, 2021, after observing him drive from Delta Junction to Fairbanks International Airport. During a subsequent search of Johnson’s residence, the FBI seized seven unsecured firearms, which were illegal for Johnson to possess due to his prior felony conviction.
Johnson pleaded guilty in January of this year to the charges. As part of the plea agreement, a three-year federal protective order will be in place prohibiting Johnson from contacting either U.S. Senator, their family or staff members following his release from prison. Johnson also agreed to forfeit the seven firearms seized from his residence.
“Nothing excuses this conduct, threatening our elected officials, an act that attacks our very system of governance,” said U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr. of the District of Alaska. “The erosion of civility in our political discourse will never justify threats or acts of violence. Johnson’s actions must be punished, and the Department of Justice will always work to ensure our elected officials can serve without fear of harm.”
“Those performing their official duties should be able to do so without fear for their safety,” said Special Agent in Charge Antony Jung 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 investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Tansey prosecuted the case.