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Man sentenced to 14 months in prison after threatening federal employee

Harold Ortiz, 56, pleaded guilty to making threats against a government employee at a Social Security Administration building.
Credit: Africa Studio - stock.adobe.com

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A 56-year-old Denver man has been sentenced to 14 months in federal prison after he threatened a federal employee, according to the Colorado's U.S. Attorney's Office.

In February, Harold Ortiz called the downtown Denver Social Security Administration (SSA) office about his social security benefits and demanded to speak to a manager and yelled insults, according to the plea agreement. 

Once Ortiz connected with a federal employee on the phone, he made several threatening statements, according to the plea agreement, including, “I’m going to stand outside your building and blow all of your [expletive] heads off! You’re dealing with a crazy person.”

According to the agreement, when the first call from Ortiz was disconnected, he placed another call to the social security office. Ortiz was told by a manager that his threats would not be tolerated. He responded, “Denver PD will not come to my house because they know I will kill them! They know I am crazy!”

Because of Ortiz's threats, the downtown Denver SSA office was closed for two days in March. 

“Freedom of speech does not protect threatening to assault or murder a United States official,” Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch said. “Threatening to harm federal officials is a crime, and we will prosecute it.”

Gail S. Ennis, the inspector general for the SSA, said in a news release that Ortiz threatened the lives of social security officials while on the job and caused them and their families to feel fear. 

She said the two-day closure of the office caused the cancellation of important appointments for other members of the public. 

"This behavior will not be tolerated by my office and today’s sentence should stand as a warning to anyone who threatens an SSA official who is simply carrying out his or her duties,” Ennis said. “I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonia Dave for prosecuting this case.”

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