Chicago Man Sentenced to 27 Months in Prison for Threatening Police Officers and Others Before and After 2008 Cougar Killing
CHICAGO—A Chicago man was sentenced today to more than two years in federal prison for mailing more than 90 threatening and/or harassing letters to Chicago police officers, other government and law enforcement officials, private individuals, schools, and religious institutions in the Chicago area between November 2003 and December 2012. The defendant, RICHARD HYERCZYK, had pleaded guilty in January to one count of mailing a threatening communication.
Hyerczyk, 54, of Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood, was ordered to begin a 27-month prison term on July 29, followed by three years on supervised release, and he was fined $10,000 by U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman. In imposing the sentence, the judge cited the “cold-blooded nature of the threats and the fear, harm, and apprehension that was created by these threats.”
When he was charged in January, prosecutors said Hyerczyk had been cooperative in the investigation and was not believed to be a danger to the community or a risk of flight. The prosecution followed a lengthy investigation by the FBI-led Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force.
In pleading guilty, Hyerczyk admitted mailing a letter on April 21, 2008, that threatened to kill Chicago Police Department officers and members of their families. That letter followed local news media reports on April 15, 2008, that Chicago police officers had shot and killed a cougar that was located on the city’s north side. Hyerczyk admitted that he drafted letters containing threats to kill and commit violence against CPD officers and members of their families.
The plea agreement detailed one such letter, which began with the salutation, “Dear Cougar Killers (aka Chicago PIG Police),” and included the following threatening messages: “Prepare to DIE like the Cougar you killed. On May 4th at your St. Jude Memorial March several PIGS will be shot by snipers.”; “BURN down the Daley house in Michigan.”; and “Kill any Police Officer, where ever they are found, like they killed the Cougar.”
Hyerczyk admitted that he drafted a second letter, which contained a title that referenced a severely injured former Chicago police officer by name and referred to the officer as the “PARALIZED [sic] PIG,” and which title contained the phrase “St. Jude Memorial PIG March.” This second letter threatened that: “A police officer will be SHOT DEAD, like they shot the cougar, at the May 4th St. Jude Memorial PIG March.”; “A celebration of DEAD police officers. Ha ha ha ha you are all better off DEAD.”; and “When the PIGS are at the parade, we will be at their homes. You can’t guard every PIGS house...watch your young children.”
After drafting these letters, Hyerczyk printed multiple copies of each and placed them into envelopes bearing first class postage and addressed to, among others: a university in Orland Park; the same university’s office of graduate studies in Chicago; the same university’s English Department in Chicago; and a Chicago Police officer and executive officer of a Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Chicago.
Hyerczyk admitted that he mailed these letters knowing and intending that they would be interpreted as threatening by the intended victims, including Chicago Police officers and their families.
The Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating the threatening letters in this case after they were first received in 2003. The investigation resulted in a federal search warrant being executed on Hyerczyk’s residence and automobile, as well as for his DNA, in January 2013. The JTTF is composed of special agents of the FBI, officers of the Chicago Police Department, and representatives from an additional 20 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
The sentence was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Veatch and Steven Dollear.