A former Marin County man has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to four months already served in jail for sending an email in which he threatened to shoot a U.S. senator unless the legislator voted to preserve endangered species protection for wolves.
Tras Gustav Karlsson Berg, 35, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney on April 13 to a count of threatening to assault or murder a U.S. senator in an email sent to the lawmaker’s office on Feb. 24.
Chesney sentenced him on July 6 to four months in jail, the penalty agreed to in the plea bargain. Because Berg had been in custody since he voluntarily surrendered to authorities and was arrested on March 7, the judge ordered him released on July 7.
Berg lived in San Anselmo when he sent the email, but moved to Oakland about a week later, according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent David Carpluk.
The charge filed against Berg did not specify which of California’s two senators he was accused of threatening. But prosecutors said in a sentencing brief that while the charge referred to a single senator, their investigation indicated that both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer received the email.
The message said, “I’m going to shoot you with a high powered rifle and bomb your house with poison gas the way wolf hunters do if you don’t do everything you can to oppose legislation that would eliminate Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across the country.”
Defense attorney Loren Stewart said in a filing last month that Berg, an environmental activist, sent the message after receiving an action alert from Defenders of Wildlife, a national conservation organization.
Stewart wrote that Berg has said he didn’t expect the statement to be taken seriously and that he is “deeply regretful.”
The defense attorney noted that Berg is on probation from a 2010 Marin County conviction for recklessly setting an outdoor sculpture on fire. He said that after being released from the federal sentence, Berg would be subject to a county arrest warrant for violating his probation.
Prosecutors said in their brief that while a threat to a senator is a serious matter, FBI searches of Berg’s computer, present and former residences and storage unit turned up no evidence that he planned to carry out the threat.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News