- Prosecutors accused William Kaetz of threatening the judge overseeing his civil case
- DOJ watchdog report says U.S. Marshals lack resources to guard judges
(Reuters) – A New Jersey man was sentenced to 16 months in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to posting a federal judge’s home address on social media networks with the intent to threaten and intimidate.
Federal prosecutors had accused William Kaetz, 56, of threatening to kill the judge overseeing his civil case. Although the indictment didn’t name the judge he threatened, court records indicated Kaetz had a pending civil case before U.S. District Judge Claire Cecchi in New Jersey.
Kaetz was initially arrested in New Jersey in October. In May, his case was transferred to Pittsburgh federal court, where U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan on Monday also sentenced him to three years of supervised release and fined him $5,000.
“With today’s action, Mr. Kaetz accepted responsibility for his actions, apologized to the victim, and asked for forgiveness for the harm he caused the victim,” Douglas Sughrue, a lawyer for Kaetz, said in an emailed statement. Sughrue said Kaetz planned to close his social media accounts and recommended others do the same.
As part of his guilty plea to one count of making restricted information publicly available, Kaetz admitted to publicly posting a judge’s home address on Facebook and Twitter in order to threaten or intimidate, or knowing that others would use the information to do so.
Prosecutors agreed to drop other charges that were pending against Kaetz, including threatening to assault and murder a U.S. judge and making interstate communications containing threats to injure.
Kaetz allegedly sent an email to the judge’s personal email account and others – including the general email for the U.S. Marshals Service – calling the judge a “traitor,” a designation that “has a death sentence,” prosecutors said.
Kaetz’s sentencing comes more than a year after a disgruntled attorney allegedly shot and killed the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas at her home and wounded her husband in the same attack. The lawyer, Roy Den Hollander, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot the next day.
Salas and Cecchi’s courtrooms in the federal court in Newark are next to one other, according to the court’s website.
A U.S. Department of Justice watchdog report in June found that the U.S. Marshals Service doesn’t have the capacity or resources needed to detect threats in advance to protect individuals under its care, including federal judges.
The case is U.S. v. Kaetz, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, No. 2:21-cr-00211-NR-1
For Kaetz: Douglas Sughrue of Sughrue Law
For the government: Tonya Sulia Goodman and Cindy Chung of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Reporting by David Thomas