ARIZONA NEWS

Texas man sentenced to 3½ years for threatening Arizona election workers, officials

Aug 4, 2023, 2:00 PM

Maricopa County election workers count ballots during the November 2022 election in Phoenix, Arizon...

Maricopa County election workers count ballots during the November 2022 election in Phoenix, Arizona. (File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A Texas man who made online threats against Arizona election workers and officials was sentenced Thursday to 3½ years in federal prison.

Frederick Francis Goltz, 52, of Lubbock, pleaded guilty in April to interstate threatening communications. His sentence includes three years of supervised release after he gets out of prison.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, who was among those targeted, submitted an impact statement before the sentencing hearing.

“The prosecution of individuals who make these threats … is not merely a personal relief but also a resounding reassurance to our entire elections community and the community of public officials,” Richer wrote to the judge in the case. “It signals that their safety is paramount, that their service is valued, and that the justice system will not tolerate attempts to intimidate or undermine our democratic system and governmental processing.”

Richer, a Republican, thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and the FBI for their work on the case.

How did Frederick Goltz threaten Arizona election workers?

Goltz was arrested in December 2022 for making threats on far-right social media platforms.

In plea papers, Goltz admitted that in November 2022, he posted the name and a home address and telephone number for a lawyer with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

“It would be a shame if someone got to his children,” Goltz wrote.

In response to another post referring to other Maricopa County officials, he wrote: “Someone needs to get these people AND their children. The children are the most important message to send.”

Prosecutors say Goltz also responded to a post about an elections official with the comment, “He’s got a WIFE that is a lawyer, too. We need to find out her name and where she works. I don’t think he has kids, but I’m not 100% on that.” In response to another user who said that kids should be “off limits,” Goltz responded: “NOTHING is off limits.”

An FBI investigation found Goltz had a long history of making threatening statements against a variety of people, according to prosecutors. Court records showed that he once advocated for “a mass shooting of poll workers and election officials” in precincts he believed had “suspect” results.

Threats against elections officials rise after Trump’s 2020 loss

The U.S. saw a proliferation of threats against elections officials after former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Such threats contributed to an exodus of election officials across the country and made recruiting poll workers difficult.

Trump, a Republican, was indicted on felony charges earlier this week for working to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the violent U.S. Capitol riot by his supporters.

Multiple people have been arrested in recent years for threatening Arizona elections officials.

Goltz wasn’t even the first person charged with making threats against Richer. Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, of Tecumseh, Missouri, was indicted in August 2022 for allegedly leaving a threatening voicemail Richer’s cellphone.

Richer mentions threats in defamation lawsuit against Kari Lake

In June of this year, Richer filed a defamation lawsuit against one of Trump’s most prominent supporters, Kari Lake. Richer is accusing Lake of spreading lies about his role in the 2022 election, when the former TV news anchor lost her bid to become Arizona’s governor.

“As a result of Defendants’ knowing and malicious falsehoods, Richer and his family have been the target of threats of violence, and even death, and have had their lives turned upside down,” the lawsuit says.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Texas man sentenced to 3½ years for threatening Arizona election workers, officials