Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to examine the FY 2022 budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

A Ridgeland man who left threatening voicemails and said he wanted to kill federal health officials pleaded guilty to making those threats, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Mississippi. 

In July 2021, Robert Wiser Bates, 39, called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and left messages for its director, Rochelle Walensky, saying that he wanted to kill her, according to court documents. 

He admitted to FBI agents that he made the threatening calls to Walensky and that he also wanted to kill Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. 

The reason why he made the threats was not available in court records. 

Bates was charged with making threats against a federal official and making threats in interstate communications, according to court records. He only pleaded guilty to making interstate threats, according to court documents. 

A trial date was set for Dec. 5, but in November he changed his plea to guilty and on Monday signed a plea agreement, according to court documents. 

Bates is set to be sentenced on March 7, 2023 in Jackson by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan III. 

Interstate transmission of threats has a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. 

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Mina, a California native, covers the criminal justice system. Before joining Mississippi Today, she was a reporter for the Clarion Ledger and newspapers in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and USA Today.