California woman made antisemitic phone threats, headed to prison

May 25, 2024


A 59-year-old California woman is headed to prison after she made antisemitic phone threats to a former executive director of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

U.S. District Judge Roy K. Altman on Thursday sentenced Melanie Harris of Riverside to 32 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Harris previously pleaded guilty to knowingly and intentionally transmitting a threatening communication in interstate commerce.

“Defendant Melanie Harris’s antisemitic threats terrorized a Jewish family,” said U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida. “Her hate-filled telephone calls and voicemails were abhorrent. No one should live in fear of threats, harassment, and hate-fueled violence. There is simply no place in our society for anyone who threatens Jews or anyone else in our diverse South Florida community.”

On Oct. 3, 2022, Harris made multiple calls to victim one’s cell phone, and left four separate threatening voicemails, with the intent to communicate a true threat and with the knowledge that the communications would be seen as true threats. In one of the voicemails, Harris said: “I’ll cut your f—— head off kiker.” The term “kike” has long been used as an antisemitic slur aimed at Jews.

Neither victim one nor his wife knew the identity of the person calling with these threatening and harassing calls and voicemails. Nor did they know where the calls were coming from because Harris concealed her phone number using the *67 feature. However, all of these calls originated from the Riverside area, where Harris lived at the time.

Over four years, Harris harassed and threatened three victims by making over 240 calls to victim one, leaving messages and engaging in conversations where she unleashed antisemitic hate and direct threats against victim one, his family, and Jews in general. In these calls and voicemails, Harris made incessant references to the congregants murdered in the October 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

In these calls and voicemails Harris repeatedly referred to victim three by their first name, in antisemitic and violent terms. Harris also made vile references to Anne Frank being murdered by the Nazis, Jews going back to Auschwitz, and in one voicemail, played for the Court at the sentencing hearing, she repeatedly screamed “Seig Heil, Kill Kikers” over and over before hanging up.

Harris’ four-year onslaught of harassment and threats of the victims was compounded by the fact that until July 2018, victim one had been the executive director of the Tree of Life for over 20 years, while his wife, and her adult child, victim three, were all long-time members of, and closely associated with, the Tree of Life.

During the course of her calls, Harris blocked her phone number from being detected by victim 1’s caller identification system, leaving the victims bereft of any knowledge of who the harasser was or where the person might be, putting them in constant fear for their lives until Harris’s arrest in March 2023.

In addition, on the same day in Feb. 2019 that Harris began her calls to victim one, she also began calling the Tree of Life leaving virtually identical hate-filled antisemitic messages referencing the deaths of the elderly worshipers.


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The sentence for harassing these people for so long seems quite light to me. On the other hand, her behavior sounds completely unhinged. IMHO she is likely seriously mentally ill and should have been locked up, probably for good, in a care facility.

End result of being a useful idiot.

How did law enforcement ever track her down?

Even with *67, the carrier knows who called. My question is, why did it take so long? I wonder how soon the victims reported this.

Less than three years… she should have received a mandatory 5 years without parole…