NEW YORK — A rural New York man convicted of threatening the life of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota won't have to participate after all in a program in which he'd hear stories about Muslim refugees, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the unusual special condition in the sentence for Patrick Carlineo was too vague to be appropriate because it might give too much authority to Probation Department officials to enforce the sentence.
In early March, Carlineo was freed after completing a one-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in late 2019 in Rochester federal court to threatening to kill the Democrat and a weapons charge.
Prosecutors said Carlineo called Omar's Washington office in March 2019, when a member of her staff recalled him calling her a terrorist and saying somebody "ought to put a bullet in her skull." Authorities said Carlineo also threatened to do so.
His sentence required him to participate after his prison term in a program that would allow Carlineo "to listen to stories about Muslim refugees or people who suffered from violence (for) being Muslim."
But the appeals panel said the special condition was vague and impermissibly delegated authority to probation authorities to dictate the terms of the sentence.
The resident of Rathbone, a rural Steuben County town 100 miles south of Rochester, received support prior to sentencing from Omar, a Somali refugee who is one of the first Muslim women to be elected to serve in Congress.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr., she had urged leniency and a restorative justice approach at sentencing, writing: "The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion."
She said a lengthy prison term or a burdensome fine would "only increase his anger and resentment" while restorative justice would let him "make amends and seek redemption."
Lawyers in the case did not return messages seeking comment.