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Police charge man issuing death threats against Long Island GOP congressman

U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.)
Courtesy of Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino

A Lake Ronkonkoma man was arrested this week after he allegedly made death threats against Republican Long Island Congressman Andrew Garbarino.

Nassau County Police said Kenneth Gasper, 64, allegedly made the threats over the phone after Garbarino voted to pass the recent federal infrastructure bill.

“Unfortunately, there’s been so much misinformation circulating, and it’s causing a lot of anger and confusion, but the truth is that the infrastructure bill is not the reconciliation bill,” Garbarino said, referring to the legislation that Congress approved and awaits President Joe Biden’s signature on Monday. “It’s about paving roads, repairing bridges and bringing jobs to Long Island.”

Gasper was charged with aggravated harassment in the second degree and was arraigned on Thursday. He is due back in court in Hempstead on November 24.

“I’d like to thank the Nassau County Police Department as well as [U.S.] Capitol Police for working diligently to address this threat to me and my staff,” Garbarino said. "I will continue to assist law enforcement in any way that I can with this ongoing criminal investigation.”

The congressman told the New York Post that police had a presence at his home and took the threat “more seriously” than others made against him.

Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is the presumptive Republican nominee for governor of New York, condemned the events.

"Physical violence and threats of physical violence have absolutely no place in U.S. politics,” he said. “That may happen in other countries around the world, but it couldn't possibly be more wrong and unwelcome here in our nation."

A court complaint obtained by Newsday said Gasper repeatedly called Garbarino a “RINO,” or Republican in name only, and said he would kill him if he saw him in the street.

It comes as former President Donald Trump called the 13 Republicans who voted for the bill “RINOs,” and Republican Georgian Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene referred to them as “traitors.”

A Nassau County District Court judge issued orders for protection for Garbarino and his staff, and ordered Gasper undergo mental health evaluations.

Garbino’s office has been subjected to “other instances of harassment both over the phone and in person at our offices since the vote.” At a press conference Friday, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said they will have increased portals due to the threats.

Leah is a former intern with WSHU Public Radio.