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Man pleads guilty to making 12,000 harassing phone calls to members of Congress

A Queens man pleaded guilty Thursday to threatening to kill a congressional aide and making more than 12,000 harassing phone calls to members of Congress over an 18-month period in 2022 and 2023, federal prosecutors said. known in Washington DC.

Ade Salim Lilly, 35, pleaded guilty to making interstate communications with the threat of kidnap or injury, punishable by up to five years in prison, and making repeated telephone calls, punishable by up to two years in prison. He will be sentenced on August 28 in Washington by U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly.

“Threatening the safety or life of another is a crime, not protected speech,” Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for DC, said in a statement. “This case should send a clear message that while people are safe in their right to express themselves, they should not threaten people and that those who do will be held to account.”

An attorney for Lilly was not immediately available for comment.

According to court documents, from February 2022 and until his arrest in Puerto Rico in November 2023, Lilly made thousands of calls to approximately 54 congressional offices across the country, with about half of the calls going to offices in DC.

Lilly placed the calls while he was in Maryland or Puerto Rico, and most were answered by congressional staffers or interns, prosecutors said. Lilly became angry and used vulgar and intimidating language during the calls, and in at least one call threatened to kill or injure his listener, according to court papers. Staffers and Capitol Police repeatedly asked him to stop calling and warned that his unwanted calls were harassing and prohibited by law, but Lilly masked his phone number, prosecutors said.

“I will kill you, I will run you over, I will kill you with a bomb or a grenade,” prosecutors said. Lilly told an aide during a call to a D.C. office on Oct. 21, 2022. He was arrested in Puerto Rico by U.S. Capitol Police officers in November.

According to the plea documents, the government has no evidence that Lilly actually intended to carry out the threats. An affidavit of violation signed by the defendant and filed by prosecutors did not specify exactly how Lilly made so many calls but said that in at least seven cases, staffers would stop answering the phone once they knew Lilly was making it. office for harassment.

In those cases, Lilly repeatedly called the office, such as one office he called 500 times on Feb. 27 and 28 in 2023, and another office he called 200 times between Feb. 6 and 27, according to the plea documents.

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