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Man sentenced for sending threatening tweets to Sen. Ernst

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A man has been sentenced to federal prison for sending threatening tweets to U.S. Senator Joni Ernst. 

Joseph Dierks, 34, of Waterllo was sentenced in Cedar Rapids District Court on Wednesday to six years in prison. He will also serve three years of supervision after his release, according to the Northern Disctrict of Iowa of the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A jury found Dierks guilty of three counts of sending threatening communication in November 2017.

During the trial, they say that evidence presented showed that he sent the threatening tweets to Ernst, and the U.S. Capitol Police contacted the Waterloo Police Department. An officer was sent to Dierks home who supposedly told the officer he would "tone it down." He then sent more threatening tweet to Ernst within the next 24 hours. Ernst was in Iowa at the time, so additional security precautions were taken.

The judge emphasized Dierk's criminal past during the sentencing, and found that he posed an "extreme risk" to relapse. Dirks was convicted previously of harassing a Waterloo police officer and carrying weapons. He was also filed tracing a knife on the outline of a neighbor. In a recorded telephone call in the jailhouse with his mother saying that he wasn't planning to follow the courts orders, hated the United States of America, blamed others for his situation, and said life meant very little to him.

“The safety of elected officials is something that cannot be taken lightly,” said United States Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr.  “This sentencing sends the message that those who attempt to intimidate or threaten to harm elected officials will be held accountable for their actions.”

Dierks is being held by the U.S. Marshals until he can be transported to a federal prison.

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