Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, leave the chamber after a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Jay Allen Johnson, 65, who faced charges of sending a series of profanity-laced voice messages to the two senators, entered guilty pleas, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in federal court in Fairbanks, Alaska, to two counts of threatening to kill a U.S. official. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline accepted Johnson’s pleas and set sentencing for April 8. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, leave the chamber after a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Jay Allen Johnson, 65, who faced charges of sending a series of profanity-laced voice messages to the two senators, entered guilty pleas, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in federal court in Fairbanks, Alaska, to two counts of threatening to kill a U.S. official. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline accepted Johnson’s pleas and set sentencing for April 8. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Alaska man who threatened to kill senators pleads guilty

He faces up 10 years in jail on each charge.

  • By Mark Thiessen Associated Press
  • Tuesday, January 4, 2022 11:11pm
  • NewsState News

By Mark Thiessen

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ANCHORAGE — A rural Alaska man who threatened to kill the state’s two U.S. senators in a series of profanity-laced voice messages left at their offices in Washington, D.C., has pleaded guilty to making the threats in exchange for having other charges dropped.

Jay Allen Johnson, 65, entered his guilty pleas Monday in federal court in Fairbanks to two counts of threatening to kill a U.S. official. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline accepted Johnson’s pleas and set sentencing for April 8.

Johnson, who has been in custody since his arrest Oct. 4, has asked for an earlier sentencing.

He faces up 10 years in jail on each charge and will be under a protective order for three years not to contact either U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski or Dan Sullivan, any of their family members or staff.

He also must forfeit two pistols, three revolvers, a shotgun and a rifle found at his home in the small community of Delta Junction. He’s not legally able to own handguns because he’s a felon for repeated drunken driving convictions.

In exchange for his guilty plea to the two counts, the government agreed to drop four other charges against Johnson, including making interstate threats and threatening to damage property by fire or explosives.

“Threatening public officials in an attempt to interfere with the performance of their duties is antithetical to our democratic system of governance,” John E. Kuhn Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Alaska, said in a statement. “To protect the functions of our government institutions and our public officials themselves, the Department of Justice will work to ensure our elected officials can serve without fear of harm.”

Johnson was charged after leaving 17 threatening voicemail messages between April and September, as outlined in both Johnson’s indictment and in the plea agreement.

In one message left Sept. 2 for Murkowski, he said, “You, my dear, are not welcomed in the state of Alaska,” and vowed to shut her down.

“I will find out all your properties, and I will burn everything you hope to have, and I will burn everything you hope to own,” the message said. “

He then claimed he could tap his skills as a “veteran,” using a .50 caliber shell.

“You ever seen what that does to a human head?” he said.

Prosecutors said they found no evidence that Johnson served in the U.S. military, confirming what the services earlier told The Associated Press, that they could find no record for him.

Later that month, he left another voicemail for Murkowski, claiming he would hire an assassin for $5,000 to kill her. “Just resign or get the f—- gone,” he said.

In another September call, this time to Sullivan’s office, Johnson said he was tired of politicians continuing to destroy the country. He again vowed to get his “.50 caliber out. I will be having a GoFundMe page for f——— shells. And I’m coming with a vengeance.”

Murkowski did not have an immediate comment, her spokesperson said in an email to the AP. Messages seeking comment left Tuesday for Sullivan and Johnson’s attorney were not immediately returned.

During several court appearances, and often against the advice of his attorney, Johnson spoke in open court.

At one hearing, Johnson said he is “a senior citizen and I am highly disabled and I will not be carrying out any of these threats.”

“I just apologize to everybody,” he said later at the same hearing.

Catherine Pousson-Johnson testified during her husband’s detention hearing in October that he was recovering from recent surgeries.

“He’s in pain right now. My husband is an old man, and he gets very angry listening to politics on the news,” she said.

Federal prosecutor Ryan Tansey later asked her if she was aware her husband was making threats against two U.S. senators.

“Who hasn’t?” she replied.

More in News

A seal pup rescued from the Kenai Beach is in the care of the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Wildlife Response Program in Seward, Alaska, on June 6, 2024. (Photo provided by Alaska SeaLife Center)
2nd seal pup rescued in Kenai, ASLC now caring for 4

A second newborn seal was rescued on Kenai Beach and admitted by… Continue reading

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, right, slices and serves fresh watermelon during North Peninsula Recreation Service Area’s Family Fun in the Midnight Sun at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center in Nikiski, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
North Peninsula Rec holds annual summer celebration

Attractions at this year’s event included carnival games, food trucks, field games, face painting, live music and demonstrations

The Blood Bank of Alaska’s new Kenai Peninsula center is seen in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Blood Bank relaunches permanent center on Kenai Peninsula

The new location joins others in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Wasilla

Nathan Nelson directs a kite flying dozens of feet up in the sky above Millennium Square in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai Kite Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Sun, wind, friends and kites

Kiters both experienced and novice gather for Kenai festival

Marchers walk from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Pride in the Park, other Pride celebrations set for Saturday

The event starts with the Two-Spirit March, which meets at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex at 11:30 a.m.

Signs direct visitors at Seward City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward OKs around $362,000 in purchases for Electric Department material

A pair of resolutions were included and passed within the consent agenda

Sockeye salmon are gathered together at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Dipnets for commercial setnet fishers given emergency approval by CFEC

Up to three 12-hour periods of commercial dipnetting “may” be allowed each week from June 20 to July 31

Council member Dave Carey speaks during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna explores its water and sewer expansion fees

The fees are a single charge to people who are newly or differently demanding or utilizing the services of the city’s water and sewer system

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Disaster determination received for 2023 east side setnet fishery

Disasters have been recognized for 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023

Most Read