Man sentenced to prison for threatening congresswoman

A 66-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to more than two years in federal prison for threatening Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) in the aftermath of the healthcare debate.

The Tampa Tribune reported that Erik Lawrence Pidrman was given a 27-month sentence by a U.S. district judge in Florida. He also must serve three years' probation following his release, have no contact with Brown-Waite and refrain from consuming alcohol.

The sentence was twice as long as the prosecution recommended under a plea deal. But the judge said a longer prison term was needed because of the seriousness of the threats.

"These threats are disturbing, and they are calculated to interfere with the operation of the community," Judge Steven D. Merryday said. "It is not an inconsequential matter to interfere with a congressional representative's right to cast their vote freely."

The threat against Brown-Waite was one of several made against lawmakers in both political parties following the passage of the controversial healthcare reform law. 

The Tribune reported that when agents questioned Pidrman in April following his arrest, he expressed frustration over threats made against Democrats and said he probably thought, "Let me scare one of those righties."

Pidrman claims he was in an alcohol-induced black-out when he called the congresswoman's office in March and left a message saying, "Just wanna let you know I have 27 people that are going to make sure that this ***** does not live to see her next term."

"I'm terribly sorry that it ever happened," Pidrman said before his sentencing Thursday morning, according to the Tribune. "I very often watch the recycled news shows on MSNBC," at the time at which he made the call, he said.

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