A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for threatening to kill Rep. Eric Swalwell and members of his staff, according to Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Joshua Hall, 23, pleaded guilty on Oct. 28 and he was sentenced by United States District Judge Gregory H. Woods on December 19, 2022.
After making threats to kill a member of the United States Congress and impersonating family members of then-President Donald Trump on social media to fraudulently raise funds for a fictitious political organization, Hall pled guilty to one count of making interstate communications with a threat to injure and one count of wire fraud.
In addition to the prison term, Hall, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
On August 29, 2022, Hall placed a series of telephone calls from in or around Yonkers, New York, to the California office of Swalwell, a member of the United States House of Representitives who was identified by authorities only as “the Congressman.”
During those telephone calls, Hall conveyed threats to kill the Congressman to at least three different members of the Congressman’s staff (“Staff Member-1,” “Staff Member-2,” and “Staff Member-3”).
On a telephone call with Staff Member-1 and Staff Member-2, Hall stated, in substance and in part, that he had a lot of AR-15s; that he wanted to shoot the Congressman; that he intended to come to the Congressman’s office with firearms; and that if he saw the Congressman, he would kill him.
He further stated, in substance and in part, that he wanted to “beat the shit out of” the Congressman and that he would find the Congressman wherever he was and hurt him. On a telephone call with Staff Member-3, Hall stated, in substance and in part, that he intended to come to the Congressman’s office to kill the Congressman with firearms.
From September 2019 until December 2020, Hall defrauded hundreds of victims by making false representations in the course of raising funds for a purported political affinity organization (“the Fictitious Political Organization”) for the ostensible purpose of supporting the reelection of the individual who was at that time serving as President of the United States (“the President”).
However, the Fictitious Political Organization did not exist, and Hall used the funds for his own personal living expenses.
Central to the scheme was the impersonation by Hall of members of the President’s family, including the President’s minor child, among others, through his creation and use of social media accounts bearing those family members’ names and photographs.
Hall used those accounts to amass more than 100,000 followers on social media and to obtain media coverage, a public platform he then exploited to confer on himself and the Fictitious Political Organization a false imprimatur of close ties with the President’s family and to encourage victims to make monetary contributions to the Fictitious Political Organization.
In total, the scheme devised and executed by Hall yielded thousands of dollars from hundreds of victims located throughout the United States, including in the Southern District of New York.
On April 8, 2019, Swalwell announced his candidacy for president on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
He released a campaign ad on his social media pages, said that gun control would be the primary focus of his campaign, and made a formal announcement at Dublin High School on April 14, 2019.
Swalwell participated in one presidential debate, in which he noted that he was six years old when Joe Biden spoke of passing the torch to a younger generation, but on July 8, 2019, he withdrew from the race.