Metro Weekly

Man Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Anti-Gay Threats of Violence

74-year-old Robert Fehring pleaded guilty to sending threats to bomb LGBTQ events and shoot and kill LGBTQ people.

A prison fence – Photo: Hédi Benyounes, via Unsplash.

A Long Island man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for sending letters through the mail threatening to “kill, shoot, and bomb” prominent LGBTQ sites and organizations in the New York area.

Robert Fehring, 74, of Bayport, New York, pleaded guilty in February to sending more than 60 letters targeting the LGBTQ community over an eight-year span.

In one letter, Fehring threatened to place “radio-controlled devices placed at numerous strategic places” at the New York City Pride March with “firepower” that would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk,” referring to a mass shooting that killed 49 and wounded dozens more.

Fehring also reportedly sent letters threatening violence at a Pride event in East Meadow, New York, a club in Long Beach, New York, that held an LGBTQ-themed night, and the Stonewall Inn, an LGBTQ historical landmark that has been designated a national monument by the federal government, which he threatened to burn down. He also threatened to shoot the bar’s patrons, and those organizing and attending the LGBTQ events. 

Fehring sent a threat, laced with racial epithets, to a Brooklyn black-owned barbershop serving the gay community, telling the owners that their shop “is a perfect place for a bombing…or beating the scum that frequents your den of [expletive] into a bloody pool of steaming flesh.” 

He also told Fire Island ferry operators that they should “screen everyone coming on board with a metal detector” warning them that “a thorough search of your boats would be in order,” according to prosecutors.

Last November, the FBI and the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force executed a search warrant at Fehring’s home, where they recovered photographs from the East Meadow Pride event, 20 stolen Pride flags, two loaded shotguns, hundred of rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, and “a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ-affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird,” according to a Justice Department press release. 

According to charging documents, Fehring was detained following the raid of his home, and waived his Miranda rights, reportedly admitting to police that he sent he letters because he was upset over a “sickening overdose of that stuff being shoved down everybody’s face on the paper, on the TV, and all over the place” and that he was “not a fan of any of the homosexuality, homosexual thing.”

He ultimately pleaded guilty to mailing threatening communications through the postal service. 

Six of Fehring’s victims spoke at a sentencing hearing on Aug. 3, including three Sayville Chamber of Commerce officials, the co-owners of the Stonewall Inn, and David Kilmnick, the president of the LGBT Network.

Prosecutors asked the judge to give Fehring at least 51 months in prison, but Fehring’s defense lawyers argued that some of his behavior can be attributed to having been sexually abused by a male cousin as a child. They also listed a number of physical and mental health issues that would make incarceration difficult for Fehring at his age, reports the New York Daily News.

Ultimately, the judge decided to sentence Fehring to 30 months in prison. He has been ordered to surrender himself to prison authorities by Sept. 2.

Glenn Obedient, Fehring’s attorney, told NBC New York that his client was “disappointed” in the length of the sentence, but was “happy to be putting this nightmare behind him.”

“He is deeply remorseful for what occurred, and looks forward to living quietly with his family once he has served his sentence,” Obedient said of his client.

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace, of the Eastern District of New York, hailed the sentence as justice for those whom Fehring threatened to shoot, maim, or kill.

“There is no room for hate in the Eastern District of New York,” Peace said in a statement. “Today’s sentence makes clear that threats to kill and commit acts of violence against the LGBTQ+ community will be met with significant punishment. We will use the full power of our office to bring to justice those who threaten to kill or hurt people because of who they are, and to ensure everyone in our district is able to live authentically, safely and in peace.”

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