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Venice man convicted of threatening members of Congress

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Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 10:30 AM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (THE DAILY SUN/WWSB) - A Venice man has been convicted of making threatening phone calls to members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Department of Justice has announced.

Frank Anthony Pezzuto, 73, faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. His sentencing date has not yet been set.

Pezzuto talked to our coverage partner, The Daily Sun, apparently unaware news outlets were reporting on his conviction.

“When (federal authorities) came to my house, I said that it will never happen again,” he said.

According to the Justice Department, prosecutors produced evidence that on Jan. 25, 2020, Pezzuto made a call from his home in Venice to the Washington, D.C., office of a congressman identified as “E.S.” and left a voicemail in which he said he was coming to kill him.

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, acknowledged to the Daily Sun he’s the congressman in question.

Five days later, Pezzuto told the Daily Sun he left a voicemail at Schiff’s office, stating that he was a worker for MS-13, a criminal gang that arose in California, and the gang was coming to cut off Schiff’s head.

Finally, on Feb. 3, 2020, Pezzuto called the office of “Congresswoman I.O.,” and told the person who answered the phone, “Tell her I’m going to kill her today.” Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted Wednesday that “Florida man who left this chilling message with my staff was convicted.”

Pezzuto used his cellphone to make the calls and concealed his phone number, but U.S. Capitol Police were still able to identify him, confirming the calls had been routed through a cell tower near his home, prosecutors said.

Pezzuto told the newspaper he is a registered Democrat and has only voted in one presidential election — for Barack Obama in 2008 — but only because he strongly disliked John McCain, whom he accused of turning on fellow prisoners of war in Vietnam.

Pezzuto said he is a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran who fights diabetes and other ailments. “I was drunk out of my mind,” he told the Daily Sun. said. “I don’t remember any of the calls. I have PTSD severely ... I really can’t tell you that much.”

He said he didn’t know anything was going on until March when authorities returned to his home after months. He had been indicted on Sept. 22, 2020.

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