Caporusso was arrested last August and reached a deal with the government in April in which he pleaded guilty to one count of influencing, hindering or retaliating a federal official through threat.
The verdict was handed down by U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Donald Trump appointee and colleague of the judge who was threatened, at the federal courthouse in Washington.
McFadden said the threatening message was “nothing short of an attack on our government system”.
In a May 14, 2020 message, left on the voicemail box of U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, Caporusso threatened that a “hot piece of lead will cut through your skull.”
“Get out of this bulls**t before it’s too late, or we’ll start cutting your staff. This isn’t a threat. This is a promise,” Caporusso said on voicemail.
The voicemail was played during Monday’s criminal proceedings.
Caporusso showed no emotion when it was played, but later said he was “shocked and embarrassed” when he first heard the recording of the message.
A statement from Sullivan was also read by Assistant US during the proceedings. Attorney Rachel Fletcher. Sullivan’s statement said the threat had a “profound impact” on him and his family.
The statement said Sullivan had taken “unprecedented measures” to protect himself and his family following the threats. Sullivan, who previously did not feel unsafe walking the dog or driving alone, said he now felt “more cautious” when traveling and that he had “drasically limited” his social interactions.
“I feel fear now,” Sullivan, who has served on the bench for more than 30 years, said in the statement.
Caporusso’s lawyers had asked the judge to sentence their client for the time he had served for the 11 months he had been in detention since his arrest.
Caporusso and his lawyers said he left the voice message while he was in the midst of an alcohol addiction as a result of opioid withdrawal that he suffered following an injury.
“I wasn’t thinking properly or doing it right at the time,” Caporusso said, holding back the tears as he described the impact his action had had on his family. He said he wanted to “humbly apologize” to Sullivan.
Announcing the verdict, McFadden highlighted not only the effect the threat had on Sullivan — with whom McFadden said he hadn’t discussed the matter — but also the impact on Sullivan’s staff, who were also targeted by the threat of caporusso. Noting that the staff had no security, he asked Caporusso to think about “what was going through their minds” as they walked to the subway after work.
McFadden also discussed the broad context of threats and acts of violence that judges across the country have faced in recent years. While Caporusso was not responsible for the actions of others, McFadden said, his threat “exacerbated” that climate.
“Court robes are not bulletproof,” the judge said.
Still, McFadden said he was confident Caporusso was genuinely sorry and noted that there was no evidence that Caporusso intended to carry out the threat.
Those and other mitigating factors prompted McFadden to hand out a lesser sentence than he would have otherwise done. In addition to 18 months in prison, Caporusso was sentenced to two years of supervised release during which he was banned from drinking alcohol.
This story has been updated with additional details from the hearing.