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Omar asks judge for ‘compassion’ for man who threatened to kill her

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A woman looks off over a podium.
U.S, Rep. Ilhan Omar introduces Sen. Bernie Sanders during a rally at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. Evan Frost | MPR News
Evan Frost | MPR News

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar is asking for “compassion” in sentencing of a man who threatened to shoot her in the head.

In a letter to federal Judge Frank Geraci on Tuesday, Omar asked him not to levy substantial fines or order a long prison sentence for Patrick Carlineo Jr., who called into her congressional office in March asking about the “Muslim brotherhood.” He told a staff member that someone “ought to shoot her in the [expletive] head.”

The threat was investigated, and it was discovered that Carlineo illegally possessed a half-dozen guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He has a previous felony conviction. Carlineo pleaded guilty this week to illegal possession of a firearm and threatening to assault and kill a U.S. official.

But Omar said “the answer to hate is not more hate.”

“Punishing the defendant with a lengthy prison sentence or a burdensome financial fine would not rehabilitate him. It would not repair the harm he has caused. It would only increase his anger and resentment,” Omar wrote. “A punitive approach to criminal justice will not stop criminals like Mr. Carlineo from committing a crime again or prevent others from committing similar acts. Only restorative justice can do that.”

Carlineo is facing up to 10 years in prison. 

The congresswoman from Minneapolis has been a lightning-rod for controversy during her first term in office, drawing criticism for comments perceived as anti-Semitic and for telling a crowd during a speech that “some people did something” on 9/11. Critics, including the president, said Omar was downplaying the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but many have said her comments were taken out of context.

Carlineo told the staffer that Omar was an “[expletive] terrorist.”

Omar didn’t downplay the seriousness of such threats.

“This was not just a threat against me as an individual — it was a threat against an entire religion, at a time of rising hate crimes against religious minorities in our country,” she wrote.

“Threats of political violence and hate speech are not unique to Mr. Carlineo. They are an increasing feature in our public sphere. We will not defeat it with anger and exclusion. We will defeat it with compassion.”