Denver man enters guilty plea after threats made to U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse

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Sep. 13—A Denver man who was accused of making threatening calls to U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, has entered into a plea agreement.

Michael James Kennedy, 59, pleaded guilty to the felony charge of retaliation against a public official and the misdemeanor charge of bias motivated crime. The District Attorney's Office dismissed the charge of stalking involving threatening and repeated communication.

As part of the plea deal, Kennedy agreed to participate in substance abuse evaluation and treatment, mental health evaluation and treatment and have no have contact with the victim. Kennedy also agreed to not use alcohol, drugs or weapons.

Kennedy is currently out on a $50,000 bond and is set for sentencing on Nov. 17. Carbone said Kennedy could receive a sentence of one year to 18 months in the Colorado Department of Correctionsbut is also eligible for probation.

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered, according to Carbone.

"This defendant's conduct, which included threatening calls to a public official and a hate crime, was completely unacceptable," District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in an email. "This felony conviction reflects the scary and disturbing nature of the defendant's phone calls. Our office worked closely with Rep. Neguse's staff to ensure that we reached the right outcome for the victims and the community. Our office will have an additional statement after the sentence is imposed by the judge on Nov. 17th."

According to an affidavit, Kennedy in the summer of 2022 "made repeated telephonic threats of gun-based violence and retaliation" toward Neguse that included "a clear racial animus" and touched on Neguse's stance on gun control.

Denver police and the FBI began the investigation with help from U.S. Capitol Police before turning the case over the Boulder County District Attorney's Office due to Neguse residing and having offices in Boulder County.

According to the affidavit, Kennedy is suspected of leaving 17 threatening voicemails with Neguse's Boulder office between May 19 and June 6.

Kennedy's voicemails frequently referenced mass shootings — including those in Boulder, Columbine and Aurora — and participating in those events.

According to the affidavits, Kennedy at one point said, "I got me a [sic] AK-47 pointed directly at you," and "You wanna take my gun away?... Maybe I shoot you."

Neguse, a Democrat and vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, has been a proponent of gun control legislation.

Kennedy also makes references to white supremacy and to Neguse being an additional victim of the mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., which is believed to be racially motivated. Neguse is Black, while Kennedy is white.

Neguse's staffers told police they increased security around the congressman due to the calls.

Denver police spoke to Kennedy on June 6 and he admitted to the calls and said he was trying to scare Neguse but did not intend on harming him.

Police did not find any weapons in Kennedy's home, but he did tell officers he was planning on purchasing a 9 mm.

According to the affidavit, Kennedy stopped placing the calls after police spoke to him.

But an investigator with the Boulder County DA's Office wrote that there was sufficient evidence that Kennedy "made credible threats" and made those threats "based on Rep. Neguse's policy stance on gun ownership" and "based on Rep. Neguse's race."

Retaliation against an elected official was added in 2021 to a felony statute that already protected judges.