Home Local Suburban man gets more than 3 years in prison for threatening to kill Democrats at Biden inauguration

Suburban man gets more than 3 years in prison for threatening to kill Democrats at Biden inauguration

by staff

A south suburban man was sentenced to just over three years in federal prison Tuesday for leaving a message for a U.S. representative threatening to shoot up “terrorist” Democrats at Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington early last year.

“We will surround the (expletive) White House and we will kill any (expletive) Democrat that steps on the (expletive) lawn,” Louis Capriotti could be heard saying on the Dec. 29, 2020, call, in a distinctly south suburban Chicago accent. “If they think that Joe Biden is going to put his hand on the Bible and walk into that (expletive) White House on January 20th, they’re sadly (expletive) mistaken.”

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Capriotti made a similar threat concerning then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The voicemail went on to refer to Democrats as “god hating” and “(expletive) terrorists.”

The 37-month term handed to Capriotti by U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman on Tuesday was seven months longer than what prosecutors had asked for.

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Capriotti, an unemployed used car salesman, was arrested at the Chicago Heights home he shared with his mother just days after the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. He’s been held without bond after a magistrate judge deemed him a danger to the community.

In asking for a sentence of 2 ½ years in prison, prosecutors said Capriotti’s threats were the culmination of a lengthy criminal history that includes convictions for domestic battery, assault and violating an order of protection.

He also had been leaving similarly threatening messages for members of Congress since at least 2017, and was even warned by the FBI in early 2020 that what he was doing was a federal crime and could land him in jail, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Durkin wrote in a recent sentencing memo.

Durkin wrote that Capriotti chose to escalate his threats even though he acknowledged “violent rhetoric has grown more common in recent years.”

Capriotti’s attorney, Jack Corfman, asked Guzman for a term of 18 months in prison, which essentially would be time-served since he’s been in custody for 16 months.

Corfman argued in a filing that, unlike those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, Capriotti had “no intent, and no plan or ability, to follow through” on his threats.

“The reality is that Mr. Capriotti has no affiliation with any groups or other individuals, and the genesis of his actions any groups or other individuals, and the genesis of his actions are much simpler,” Corfman wrote. “When he would hear things he didn’t like on the news, he would become upset and lash out.”

Corfman also said the country’s current political rhetoric has led to widespread use of “harsher, more inflammatory language” that has blurred the boundaries of what might be appropriate to say in a public forum.

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In a letter to the judge, Capriotti, 46, apologized and said he’d learned his lesson.

“I do not want to spend any more of my life in jail,” he wrote. “I understand that these calls crossed a line and I will not make any more to any politicians ever again. I don’t believe (the) calls represent who I am or who I want to be as a person.”

Capriotti pleaded guilty in October to a charge of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. The 11-page criminal complaint alleged Capriotti has a history of leaving profane voicemails for members of Congress dating to at least 2017.

On Nov. 18, shortly after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, Capriotti called a U.S. representative from Michigan, identified himself as a U.S. Marine veteran who had killed several terrorists in combat and said he “will continue to kill them because that’s what I am trained to do,” the complaint stated.

“In the next couple weeks, some big news is about to go down,” Capriotti said, adding that certain individuals “are going to be astonished of what’s going to be revealed,” the complaint stated.

Authorities later determined that Capriotti was never in the military, according to court records.

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jmeisner@chicagotribune.com

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