U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Louisiana
For Immediate Release
February 2, 2010
Jim Letten, United States Attorney
Contact: Kathy English
(504) 589-4978 (fax)
New Orleans Man Pleads Guilty to Making Threats to Kill President Obama and to Drug and Firearms Offenses
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — JOHN TURNPAUGH, age 47, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, pled guilty today in federal court before U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey to making threats to kill the President; possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it; and to possessing four firearms in furtherance of his drug trafficking activity, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to the factual basis, TURNPAUGH admitted on December 30, 2009, he called an New Orleans Police Department 911 operator and stated,
Yeah, hey, I’m going to kill President Barack Obama and his wife this month… The New Orleans Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service responded swiftly and determined that the caller was TURNPAUGH who lived in the 1000 block of St. Mary Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. After agents located the defendant, advised him of his rights, and played a recording of the 911 call, the defendant admitted that he was the person who made the call. Telephone records also revealed that TURNPAUGH had placed the call from his cell phone. Additional investigation determined that TURNPAUGH was selling marijuana and was illegally in possession of several firearms in furtherance of his drug trafficking activity.
TURNPAUGH faces a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment, as well as up to $750,000 fines, and five (5) years of supervised release. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 11, 2010 at 10:00 A.M.
Speaking to today’s conviction, U.S. Attorney Letten stated:
Today, an armed and potentially dangerous individual who has threatened the President of the United States sits in federal prison awaiting the imposition of a mandatory jail sentence as a result of swift and decisive action by NOPD, Louisiana State Police, the U.S. Secret Service, ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Once again, the prompt apprehension, arrest and conviction of John Turnpaugh must serve as a clear message that we in federal enforcement and our partners will forcefully and swiftly bring all available resources to protect the safety of our President and our citizens.
ATF Special Agent in Charge Philip M. Durham said:
Today’s plea demonstrates the value of teamwork and smart policing. ATF will continue its commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to combat firearm violence and arrest those who would use or threaten to use firearms violence against any person living in the USA.
NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley added:
I would like to commend the quick work of the NOPD, Louisiana State Police, U.S. Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the investigation and apprehension of this potentially dangerous individual. This is an example of the what can be accomplished when federal, state and local law enforcement come together to investigate a crime such as this.
The investigation was conducted by Special Agents of the U.S. Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the New Orleans Police Department and Louisiana State Police. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Maurice E. Landrieu, Jr. and Salvadore Perricone.