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When FBI agents searched Fehring’s home in November, they discovered copies of the letters, 20 pride flags that had been stolen from the Long Island town of Sayville, two loaded shotguns, nearly 400 rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, and a stamped envelope containing the remains of a dead bird he had intended to send an attorney who had worked on LGBTQ civil rights cases.
Investigators also discovered photographs Fehring had taken at Pride parades in New York City and at Eisenhower Park, which they described as “reconnaissance” he had carried out “to further terrify victims.” In at least one instance, he sent photographs to the CEO of an LGBTQ rights group to prove he’d been at the Eisenhower Park event but had not been able to “get a shot off.”
“The fact that the defendant sent his threats and then appeared at the above-described locations while he was the owner of multiple firearms and ammunition is particularly serious,” prosecutors said. “He did not merely make threats but took steps to enhance the seriousness of the threats that he made.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Fehring to at least 51 months in prison, while his defense team had requested he only receive probation.
His attorneys had argued that some of his behavior might be explained by his being sexually assaulted by a male cousin when he was a child. They also said he had a wide list of physical and mental health issues that would make incarceration difficult at his age.
Six of Fehring’s victims spoke at this sentencing hearing on Wednesday to describe the impact of his threats, including three officials with the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce, two owners of the Stonewall Inn, and gay activist David Kilmnick with the LGBT Network.
In a statement to the court, Kilmnick described the threatening and hate-filled letters he received from Fehring over 10 years and how they impacted his life.
“Once you have been targeted because of who you are, it changes you. You have no luxury of safety – even doing the most mundane daily chores,” he said. “From the first time I received one of his ‘anonymous’ letters [threatening] my life due to being an LGBT ‘advocate’ and fighting for the rights and safety for our community, I no longer felt safe going to get the mail, taking out the garbage and even starting my car each day.”
Fehring is required to surrender to prison by Sept. 2.
“Today’s sentence makes clear that threats to kill and commit acts of violence against the LGBTQ+ community will be met with significant punishment,” said Breon Peace, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.