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Amherst Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Members of Congress

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Ryder Winegar left voicemails claiming he would kill lawmakers who didn't "get behind Trump."

An Amherst man accused of leaving threatening voicemails for multiple members of Congress last December has entered a guilty plea.

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Ryder Winegar, 34, left voicemails for six members of Congress last December threatening to kill them if they didn’t “get behind Donald Trump.”

Winegar also made homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic remarks in the voicemails, which were traced back to a cell phone registered in his wife’s name.

A federal and state investigation also found that Winegar emailed a similar threat of violence to a member of the New Hampshire legislature around the same time.

“While political expression is protected speech, threats to commit acts of violence constitute serious federal crimes,” said acting U.S. Attorney John Farley in a statement.

“By threatening to kill members of Congress and a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, this defendant sought to intimidate public officials. As this prosecution demonstrates, such conduct is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

U.S. Capitol Police attempted to interview Winegar at his home on December 20. The next day, Winegar flew to Brazil where he claimed he was scouting out potential investment properties. He was arrested at Logan Airport in mid-January upon arrival.

A search of Winegar’s home on December 22 “discovered a substantial arsenal of weapons and ammunition, including, specifically, a loaded AR-15 rifle (with light armor-piercing ammunition), a loaded shotgun, a loaded 9mm pistol, an unloaded rifle with a scope, several hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and a body armor vest, with clips and Level IV body armor plates,” according to court documents.

He remains in custody and will be sentenced in December.

Winegar served in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged. According to his attorney, he has no prior criminal record.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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