Ilhan Omar asks judge to have compassion on man who threatened to shoot her

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., publicly requested Tuesday that a federal judge show mercy when sentencing a man who called her a "terrorist" and threatened to shoot her.

"The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion." Omar wrote in a letter to Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr., who is set to preside over sentencing for Patrick Carlineo. Carlineo pleaded guilty Monday in Rochester, N.Y.,  federal court to charges of threatening to assault and murder a U.S. official and being a felon in possession of firearms.

Carlineo, 55, faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both following his guilty plea. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 14.

"Punishing the defendant with a lengthy prison sentence or a burdensome financial fine would not rehabilitate him," Omar wrote. "It would not repair the harm he has caused. It would only increase his anger and resentment."

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Prosecutors say Carlineo called Omar's offices on March 21 and told a staff member he would "put a bullet" in Omar.

“Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood?" Carlineo asked the staffer. "Why are you working for her, she’s a [expletive] terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. Back in the day, our forefathers would have put a bullet in her [expletive]."

Omar's letter acknowledged the severity of Carlineo's crimes but indicated that his actions were "taught," and requested that he get the opportunity to seek redemption.

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"A punitive approach to criminal justice will not stop criminals like Mr. Carlineo from committing a crime again or prevent others from committing similar acts," she write. "Only restorative justice can do that. He should understand the consequences of his actions, be given the opportunity to make amends and seek redemption.

"If we truly want to prevent crimes like Mr. Carlineo's, we must address the root causes of these crimes," she added. "The desire to commit violence is not inherent in people. People who threaten or commit violence are often themselves the victims of systemic alienation and neglect. They seek violence because they are taught violence. We must address the systemic alienation through community reintegration and social services."

Omar's letter draw praise from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a presidential candidate endorsed by Omar who has decried the "prison-industrial-complex" and called for reform to the system.

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"I agree with Representative Ilhan Omar: The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion," Sanders tweeted on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.