By LEVI PULKKINEN
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Excerpt) | January 12, 2011
A California man accused of threatening to kill Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott has been arrested and charged in federal court.
Charles Turner Habermann -- a 32-year-old Palm Springs, Calif., resident with a $3 million trust fund -- was arrested Wednesday morning on allegations that he made threatening phone calls to the office of the Seattle Democrat late last year. ...
Read the criminal complaint against Charles Turner Habermann (warning: contains foul language)
Contacted by the investigators the day after the messages were left, Habermann allegedly admitted to threatening McDermott and an congresswoman not identified in court documents.
"He said he was trying to scare them before they spent money that didn't belong to them," FBI Special Agent Dean Giboney told the court. "Habermann stated that he never had any intention of hurting anyone," the agent continued, "and that he had too much to lose -- referring to his $3 million trust fund -- to ever do anything which could get him sent to prison." ...
Habermann also disparaged Democrats for their views on tax cuts and unemployment insurance, according to the statement. Habermann is alleged to have threatened to kill McDermott in an effort to interfere with his vote on the tax cut proposal in December 2010.
A McDermott staffer contacted the FBI on Dec. 10, reporting that the congressman's Seattle office had received the offending phone calls.
In one, the caller was heard calling McDermott "a piece of human filth," "a communist," and a "piece of (expletive) garbage."
"Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, or George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, if any of them had ever met uh, uh Jim McDermott, they would all blow his brains out," Habermann said in the first rambling message, according to charging documents. "They'd shoot him, in the head. They'd kill him, because he's a piece of, of, of disgusting garbage. …
"Any you let that (expletive) scum bag know, that if he ever (expletive) with my money, ever the (expletive) again, I'll (expletive) kill him, okay," Habermann continued, according to charges. "I'll round them up, I'll kill them, I'll kill his friends, I'll kill his family, I will kill everybody he (expletive) knows."
The second message continued in the same vein, Giboney told the court, noting that Habermann identified himself by name in both calls.
Writing the court, Giboney said Habermann admitted to making the calls during an interview with investigators on Dec. 10. According to the FBI agent, Habermann also admitted to threatening a second U.S. representative, identified in court documents as "Congresswoman C.P."
Habermann said he'd been drinking the night he made the calls but was "functioning," the FBI agent told the court. Asked about his motivation for the threats, Giboney continued, Habermann said he "was calling politicians to let them know that what they were doing and saying regarding spending taxpayer's money was wrong." ...
The charges come less than a year after Durkan's office filed charges against a Selah man accused of leaving threatening messages at the office of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. The man accused in that case, 64-year-old Charles Wilson, was sentenced to one year in federal prison and remains at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac.
In sentencing Wilson, U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour described the Eastern Washington man's actions as terrorism and Wilson, by extension, as a terrorist.
"The very foundation of our system of laws and government, and the promise of democracy is that political change is accomplished through reasoned debate, through persuasion, and through voting," Coughenour said, reading from a text prepared by law clerk Colin George. "And we have a word for people who try to effect political change through violence and threats of violence. …
"Terrorism is not an ethnicity. Terrorism is not a color. Terrorism is replacing peaceful political participation with violence."
Federal prosecutors contend Habermann was investigated in March after making similar threats against a member of the California State Assembly.
In that instance, Habermann was escorted from the assembly member's office.
"During the meeting Habermann began ranting about the current federal health care bill and how Habermann was 'very well off' and did not want to support immigrants and Latinos," Giboney told the court. "Habermann was described as agitated, paranoid, uneasy and couldn't keep still."
Habermann then left threatening messages on an office voice mail, according to charging documents.
Contacted by the California Highway Patrol, Habermann said he was high on medical marijuana and apologized for the threatening voice mails, according to charging documents. He was issued a warning. ...