A Queens man, who also faces charges of attempted murder as a hate crime in a separate case, pleaded guilty Tuesday to emailing death threats to an employee of the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American Islamic Relations, according to the Department of Justice.
Bernhard Laufer, 58, admitted he threatened the employee with "significant bodily harm and death" in June 2014, according to the DOJ. He pleaded guilty in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.
"Those who make violent threats to others because of race, religion or national origin must be held accountable," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting those who engage in such conduct."
Laufer, from Rego Park, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
"[On]behalf of CAIR, we appreciate the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney's investigation and resolution of this matter and welcome Mr. Laufer's acceptance of responsibility," said Jenifer Wicks, an attorney for the organization, in an email. "CAIR Executive Director, the target of Mr. Laufer's threats, will be submitting a victim impact statement for sentencing."
In 2012 Laufer was charged with attempted murder as a hate crime for allegedly stabbing a Muslim man repeatedly as he tried to unlock a Flushing mosque for morning prayers, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.
The victim, 57-year-old Bashir Ahmad, was stabbed in the back at about 4:50 a.m. on Nov. 18, 2012. When Ahmad turned around he reportedly saw Laufer and tried to defend himself by putting his arms up, but Laufer allegedly continued to stab him, yelling "I'll kill you Muslim [expletive]."
The case is still pending, said a spokesman for the Queens DA's office.