WASHINGTON — A 31-year-old Tulsa man has been charged in federal court in Oklahoma with threatening to kill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and members of his family.
In a 10-page complaint filed under seal on July 25 and announced Tuesday, prosecutors allege that Charles Jason Moreland sent expletive-filled emails to Reid over four days in April.
A message on April 15 told Reid he was a “dead (expletive) man!!!!!!!” Three days later a message received by the Nevada Democrat warned that “if he ever steps foot out of D.C. he will be done…. Harry Reid needs to resign immediately or face stern, harsh, unimaginable consequences to him and his family.”
As a high-ranking political figure and a lightning rod for partisan controversy, Reid often is a target of aggressive calls and messages, his office has confirmed. He is guarded by a 24-hour security detail as a function of his leadership position.
The reported threats from Oklahoma appeared to be different from those Reid disclosed on April 29 and that had prompted security to be tightened around the Senate leader.
Reid said at the time he had received “ugly, vile, vulgar” letters mailed to his home, nearly all of them mixing threats with passages from the Bible. Authorities said in court documents made available Tuesday the threats reportedly made by Moreland were sent to Reid through his official website.
In both cases, the threats reportedly were received in the aftermath of the government’s attempted roundup of cattle deemed trespassing on federal land and belonging to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
The roundup stirred anti-government passions and was abandoned after armed Bundy supporters and armed federal agents engaged in a standoff near Bunkerville. During the standoff, Reid referred to Bundy backers as “domestic terrorists.”
The complaint against Moreland made no mention of Bundy. Rather, it suggested that he may have been off needed medication. Moreland was visited in the fall by federal agents after threatening emails sent to the White House were traced to his account.
Moreland also was linked to angry and threatening messages sent to Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., who represents Tulsa in the U.S. House, authorities said.
The messages to Reid claimed to be written by “Thomas Payne,” and from a false address in Nevada. They were traced to Moreland’s address in Tulsa, according to the complaint.
A message to Reid spokespersons was not immediately answered on Tuesday.
Moreland was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Tulsa federal court, and could face up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines if he’s convicted, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.
“Any time we receive information about threats of this nature, we take them very seriously,” Shores said Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.