Ex-Google programmer sentenced to 14 months in prison for threats to Chief Justice Roberts

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A man who used to work as a programmer at Google received a 14-month term in prison for threatening to kill Chief Justice John Roberts.

Neal Brij Sidhwaney, 43, was sentenced on April 1 by U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard in Jacksonville, Florida, after pleading guilty at the end of 2023 to transmitting an “interstate communication containing a threat to injure.”

Judge Howard joined the federal district court in 2007 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.

On Jan. 2, she accepted a plea bargain reached by the prosecution and the defendant, according to records of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Mr. Sidhwaney has reportedly been in custody since he was arrested on Aug. 18, 2023, two weeks after he placed a telephone call to the Supreme Court.

A court document indicated he left a voicemail on July 31, 2023, for Chief Justice Roberts saying: “Yeah hi, my name is Neal Sidhwaney, uh, this message is for [Roberts]. I will [expletive] kill you. Go [expletive] tell the Deputy U.S. Marshals you [expletives]. I will [expletive] talk to them and then I’ll [expletive] come kill you anyways you [expletives].”

Although he faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the defendant was sentenced to 14 months of imprisonment to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

During that period of supervised release, Mr. Sidhwaney will be required to participate in substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment programs.

He is also forbidden from contacting the victim or visiting the District of Columbia without prior approval from his probation officer.

Chief Justice Roberts was identified as “Victim 1” and not named as the object of the threat in the Aug. 16, 2023, indictment, Reuters reported.

But a psychological evaluation filed with the district court in September 2023 that was subsequently sealed identified the chief justice as the victim of the threat.

The evaluation, authored by Alan J. Harris, a licensed psychologist in Jacksonville, Florida, concluded that Mr. Sidhwaney was fit to stand trial, but said he had a “delusional disorder with psychosis” and had received treatment with an antipsychotic drug.

“According to his parents he believes a private agency has been following him. However, his paranoia began in 2017 when he left Google” after working there for eight years, Mr. Harris’s report stated.

“According to his mother he becomes enraged watching the news which triggers him to write letters and emails or to make phone calls.”

Mr. Sidhwaney “has expressed the belief that Google planted a chip in his head and foot.”

“Sleep is disturbed as he will stay up to [3] a.m. and then sleep late,” Mr. Harris wrote.

Mr. Sidhwaney’s intelligence “was estimated to fall in the superior range.”

Although his speech “was rather rigid and stilted,” his “thought stream was coherent, relevant and sequential.”

“At the time of his arrest he was unemployed, claiming he could not obtain employment due to a discriminatory investigation by a private security firm which allegedly accused him of pedophilia and other crimes.”

He was a programmer for Google for eight years ending in 2017 “and won a number of company awards for his achievements.”

The sentencing came as threats against Supreme Court justices and lower court judges have been rising, prompting the Supreme Court to seek additional funding from Congress for security at the courthouse and for justice’ families.

Security around the Supreme Court and the justices was boosted in May 2022 after a draft majority opinion in the ruling that later overturned Roe v. Wade was leaked, leading to raucous protests at the Court and at the homes of justices.

Despite an investigation by Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley, the identity of the leaker has never been revealed.

President Joe Biden signed the Supreme Court Police Parity Act into law in June 2022.

The measure gave Supreme Court officials, including Ms. Curley’s office, greater authority to protect the Court, members of the justices’ immediate families, and other Court employees.

Some activists posted bounties on Twitter offering information on the whereabouts of the justices so they could assemble flash mobs to harass them.

Authorities foiled a June 8, 2022, attempt to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his Maryland home.

Nicholas John Roske of California, who reportedly said he wanted to kill the justice to prevent him from voting to overturn abortion rights and gun control laws, entered a not guilty plea after a federal grand jury indicted him.

Hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade the same month, Mikeal Deshawn Archambault of Texas allegedly posted a threat on Twitter vowing to “kill everyone” at the Court.

He was charged with making a terrorist threat.

Both sides refused to comment on the legal development.

“We respectfully decline the invitation to comment,” Mr. Sidhwaney’s attorney, Kathryn E. Sheldon of the Federal Defender’s Office in Jacksonville, said by email.

Amy Fijones, a public affairs specialist in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, referenced her office’s press release recounting the basic facts of the case, adding, “We don’t have any further comments.”

This article by Matthew Vadum appeared April 2, 2024, in The Epoch Times. It was updated April 3, 2024.