Man Arrested For Threats Made Against Seattle Congressman

Crime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemUnemployment BenefitsJim McDermottU.S. Department of JusticeCrime

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A California man accused of making threats against Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott was arrested Wednesday, the Justice Department reported.

Read the criminal complaint against Charles Turner Habermann (warning: contains foul language)

According to the statement, Charles Turner Habermann, a 32-year-old Palm Springs, Calif., resident, was arrested Wednesday morning after making threatening phone calls to the office of the Seattle Democrat.

Federal prosecutors in Seattle described statements left by Habermann in two Dec. 9 phone calls as "expletive-laden" and threatening.

Habermann threatened to kill McDermott's friends and family, then, in the second call, threatened to put McDermott "in the trash."

The threats preceded by several weeks the deadly Arizona shooting that saw six killed and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords severely wounded.

Haberman also disparaged and threatened McDermott and other 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.

Jenny Durkan, U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, said in a statement that such threats "are intended to silence debate, not further it."

"We are blessed to live in a country that guarantees and protects the freedom to disagree with our government and speak our minds," Durkan said in a statement. "That protection, however, does not extend to threats or acts of violence."

"They instill fear not just in the immediate victims, but in many who might hold the same views or take the same course," the federal prosecutor continued. "Such threats are crimes, and the individuals who make them must be held accountable."

Federal prosecutors contend Habermann was investigated in March after similar threats were received by a member of the California State Assembly.

In that instance, Habermann was escorted from the assembly member's office, then left threatening messages on an office voice mail, according to the Justice Department statement. Habermann was issued a warning.

Charged with threatening a federal official, Habermann is expected to appear in federal court Wednesday afternoon in Riverside, Calif.

Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or levipulkkinen@seattlepi.com. Follow Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/levipulk.

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