A Pittsburgh judge on Monday sentenced a New Jersey man to 16 months in federal prison for threatening the life of a federal judge in New Jersey.
Paramus, New Jersey, resident William Kaetz, age 56, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on October 18, 2020, Kaetz publicly posted the home address of a United States District Court Judge to the social media sites Facebook and Twitter, and did so with the intent to threaten or intimidate, or with the intent and knowledge that others would use the information to threaten or intimidate, said judge.
Following the guilty plea hearing, Judge Ranjan sentenced Kaetz to a term of imprisonment of 16 months, with three years’ supervised release and a fine of $5000.
Kaetz was arrested about three months after 72-year-old lawyer Roy Den Hollander shot and killed the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas at the family’s New Jersey home.
That deranged gunman’s crime influenced the introduction of state and federal legislation to forbid people from publishing information identifying the home addresses of judges, prosecutors or law enforcement officers. One of those measure was enacted in New Jersey and goes into effect in December.
Kaetz had several cases before US District Judge Claire Cecchi, who tossed at least two of those matters.
In March 2019, Kaetz sued the federal government for $20 million, alleging his constitutional rights had been violated because he claimed President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were guilty of “allowing known enemies of plaintiff’s nation in plaintiff’s nation’s official offices.”
“It is well known fact that Socialists and Muslims will not assimilate to our constitutional republic form of government and all defendants have allowed demonstrations of advocacy to overthrow our constitutional form of government without prosecution,” claimed Kaetz, who was representing himself in the litigation, “therefore Socialists and Muslims and their supporters cannot be in any government job.”
In fact, the First Amendment specifically permits Americans to practice any religion or adhere to any political ideology, and numerous laws make it illegal to deprive a government job to anyone for those reasons.
Assistant United States Attorneys Tonya Sulia Goodman and Cindy K. Chung prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Marshals Service for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Kaetz.
Judge Ranjan imposed that term on Kaetz immediately after he pleaded guilty to a charge of making restricted information publicly available.
Kaetz had been charged in 2020 with multiple counts related to threats against the judge who had been presiding over civil cases he had filed.
Social media sites show that Kaetz has been a member of the North Jersey Regional Tea Party since 2010, as well as a vocal supporter of former President Donald J. Trump.
Bill Kaetz’s Twitter page is packed with Donald J. Trump for President TV commercials, along with posts promoting right-wing conspiracy theories and questioning science behind Covid-19 public health measures and the climate crisis.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh took the case after all New Jersey officials recused themselves because they appear often before the judge. Prosecutors have not named the judge, but civil records in New Jersey show Kaetz had three cases before a Newark judge.
The FBI said he used a pay service to obtain the judge’s home address and then threatened the judge through phone calls, emails and the U.S. mail.
He sent a letter to the judge’s house on Sept. 24 in which he asked the judge to expedite his case. When agents interviewed him a few days later, he said he was concerned about the case and said the judge was taking too long to rule. He said the judge should recuse himself because of the delay.
On Oct. 18, 2020, the judge’s staff said Kaetz left a voicemail on the judge’s chambers phone in which he said he had several cases before the judge that should have been decided already.
He said he was not going to be “sitting around” for “another bad decision,” according to the FBI, and wanted the judge removed from his cases and would not take no for an answer.
He also sent an email to the U.S. marshals and the judge’s personal email account in which he complained that the judge was “stonewalling” his cases.
In that email, he said the judge was a traitor and “that has a death sentence, I would rather use the pen than the sword, but … there will come a time to take down those people that fail to do their job … and that will be people like traitor [judge].”
He said he would do his best not to hurt the judge, but he also said the marshals have a duty to remove him.
Agents arrested him that day.
In one of his civil cases, Kaetz sued the U.S., Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama on claims that his rights had been violated because the government had allowed “known enemies” of the U.S. to hold official offices.
He also complained that socialists and Muslims will “not assimilate to our constitutional republic” and should not hold government jobs.
His other suits involved a custody battle and the purchase of a car.
Federal authorities arrested Kaetz for threatening the federal judge presiding over his civil lawsuit after he sent an email to the judge’s personal account that claimed they were “avoiding and stonewalling” his case, and called the judge a “traitor,” saying that crime carried a “death sentence.”
“There will come a time to take down those people that fail to do their job,” Kaetz wrote, adding that he would try his best to “not harm the traitor” because of his pending case.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Ranjan ordered Kaetz to pay a $5,000 fine and be on probation for three years after his release.