N.Y. man who threatened judge attacked court officers - prosecutors

3 minute read

REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

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  • Robert Wilson charged with assaulting a federal officer
  • Judiciary expressing concern about rising threats

(Reuters) - Federal prosecutors say that a New York man attacked a court security officer in an elevator and two others who responded to the scene after being barred from seeing a federal judge whom he had threatened to detain with "armed troops."

Robert Wilson, 63, was arrested on Thursday following the incident at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York, and charged in a criminal complaint made public on Monday with assaulting a federal officer.

The Calverton, New York, man was ordered detained without bail at a hearing Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene Lindsay. His court-appointed lawyer, Evan Sugar of the Federal Defenders of New York, did not respond to a request for comment.

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The judiciary has been expressing renewed concern about a rising number of threats to judges nationally, including to the magistrate judge who signed off on a warrant authorizing an FBI search of Donald Trump's Florida home.

The U.S. Marshals Service said federal judges were subject to 4,511 threats and inappropriate communications in 2021, up from 926 such incidents in 2015.

Wilson, without a lawyer, has been pursuing a federal lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Gary Brown against various state and local officials over matters involving home improvement contractor licensing and earlier prosecutions.

According to the criminal complaint, since May, Wilson had a series of statements to courthouse staff and another judge in person and in writing that resulted in court security officers being instructed to monitor his activities in the building.

On Wednesday, he entered the courthouse to file documents in his case and, while at the clerk's office, said if the judge did not "follow the rules," he would return with "armed troops" to "arrest the judge for treason," the complaint said.

When Wilson returned Thursday morning, he asked court security officers where to find the judge's office. Officers told him he was not allowed to see the judge at that time, and he went to an elevator, the complaint said.

An officer followed him and got onto an elevator with Wilson. Once the doors closed, Wilson grabbed the back of the officer's neck, forced him to the ground and punched around his side ribcage area several times, the complaint said.

The office radioed in a distress call, and several other officers tried to detain Wilson, including two who sustained injuries. He was taken into custody at that time.

The case is U.S. v. Wilson, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, No. 22-mj-864.

For the United States: Burton Ryan of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York

For Wilson: Evan Sugar of the Federal Defenders of New York

(NOTE: This story has been updated to add the name of the prosecutor on the case.)

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.