The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Reporter Over Religion-Related Coverage


From a Justice Department press release:

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Paul E. Lubienecki, 63, of Hamburg, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to stalking….

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron J. Mango and Charles M. Kruly, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant harassed and intimidated Victim 1, a local television reporter, causing the victim to be in reasonable fear of death and serious bodily injury, and causing substantial emotional distress. Specifically, on six separate occasions between August 20, 2019, and February 4, 2020, Lubienecki left harassing and threatening voicemails for Victim 1 relating to the victim's reporting on the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which appeared on Channel 7 WKBW. The defendant left these voicemails with the intent to harass and intimidate Victim 1.

The Criminal Complaint alleges that the statements included,

"… I know where you live in [naming the village in which the reporter resided]. I'm going to find you. I'm going to kill you."

According to the Complaint, Lubienecki was upset that the reporting related to the resignation of the Bishop of Buffalo, which apparently stemmed from an alleged coverup of sexual abuse by priests.

In the Plea Agreement, Lubienecki admits to the threats, and acknowledges the link to the reporting on the Archdiocse. The Plea Agreement also reports that the Sentencing Guidelines recommended sentence would be between 1½ and 2½ years in prison, plus a fine between $7,500 and $95,000.