U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Louisiana
For Immediate Release
May 11, 2010
United States Attorney Jim Letten, United States Attorney
Contact: Kathy English
(504) 589-4978 (fax)
New Orleans Man Sentenced for Making Threats to Kill President Obama and for Drug and Firearms Offenses
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — JOHN TURNPAUGH, age 47, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, was sentenced in federal court today by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey to ninety-six (96) months imprisonment for threats against the President, as well as drug and gun charges, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Specifically, the defendant was sentenced to serve 36 months in prison as to charges involving the threat against the president and the drugs, and a consecutive sentence of 60 months as to the gun charge.
Speaking to today’s prison sentence, U.S. Attorney Letten stated,
The swift, joint investigation and action by Secret Service, ATF, NOPD, and our U.S. Attorney’s office, coupled with today’s 8-year prison sentence, are powerful and clear signals that we in federal enforcement will move forcefully and decisively in finding, apprehending, and bringing to justice anyone who threatens or endangers our President, or who places our citizens at risk through criminal conduct.
According to court documents, TURNPAUGH pled guilty on February 2, 2010 to three counts of an indictment which charged him with making threats to kill President Barack Obama, possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, and to possessing four firearms in furtherance of his drug trafficking activity. 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.
According to the sentencing guidelines, it was recommended that TURNPAUGH face a range of 15 to 21 months imprisonment. In handing down the sentence, Judge Jay Zainey took note of the defendants lengthy criminal history and imposed a more severe sentence than called for by the federal guidelines.
The case was investigated by agents from the U.S. Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the New Orleans Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Maurice E. Landrieu, Jr. and Salvador Perricone.