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Marine vet in 29 Palms found guilty of making more than 10,000 threatening calls to government offices
A Twentynine Palms man who federal prosecutors said made over 10,000 harassing phone calls to government offices, which included threats to kill congressional staffers, was convicted Wednesday on six counts.
A jury found Robert Stahlnecker, 48, guilty on one count of making threats by interstate commerce and five counts of anonymous telecommunications harassment, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office - Central District of California. He was acquitted of two counts of threatening federal employees.
He faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison at a May 4 hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
According to court records, Stahlnecker made the calls between January and November 2019, and followed a similar pattern in which he complained about a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Hospital in Loma Linda and then "(launch) into profanity-laced, obscene, and offensive tirades."
In one of several calls made to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown's office, Stahlnecker allegedly told a female intern who answered: "I am going to come to your office and kill you, you miserable little c---."
The next day, an FBI agent said in an affidavit that Stahlnecker called again and became angry when the intern didn't provide her name because he was "keeping a list of the b----es that hang up on him."
In August, Stahlnecker reportedly called a U.S. Congresswoman's office in San Mateo and told the staffer who answered: "I'm going to your f---ing office and I'm going to kill you, f--- you."
Of the 10,000 calls, the FBI investigator found that over 3,600 of them were made to a VA complaint line.
This is not the first run-in Stahlnecker has had with law enforcement for making threats.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, he has been the subject of 41 investigations for threatening or harassing phone calls involving 53 elected officials since at least 2009.
Stahlnecker has criminal convictions for harassment in New Jersey and making terrorist threats in Pennsylvania. In 2015, he was convicted in a Riverside federal court of impeding the operations of the VA, which was later overturned on appeal.
According to the Times Leader, a newspaper that covers northeastern Pennsylvania, Stahlnecker is a Marine Corps veteran who served from 1995 until 1999, when he was discharged after severely injuring his ankle.
Stahlnecker told the paper that was when his "troubles with the VA began."
He said the VA denied his first claim in 2000 to receive disability compensation and told him his "injury had nothing to do with (his) military service despite suffering the injury while training with a platoon."
According to the 2011 article, a disability claim wasn't accepted until 2007, after he made hundreds of phone calls and emails to a VA office in Philadelphia.
The article reported that police in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had charged Stahlnecker that year of using vulgar and threatening language, and making a rape reference to female call takers at the VA office in 2009.
Stahlnecker told the Times Leader he "lost his cool after years of fighting denials" of claims but appeared to justify his behavior as standing up for fellow former soldiers.
"It is the principle of getting what I deserve. Not only for me, but for all veterans who suffered a disability while on active duty and get denied by the VA," he said in 2011. "I have tolerated and put up with a great deal of nonsense. I was trying to get the VA to recognize they can't treat veterans this way. They don't care."
©2020 Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.
"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.
Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.
Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.