Robert Fehring, who pleaded guilty to sending threatening letters to members of the LGBTQ+ community and supporters has been sentenced to 30 months behind bars. The retired teacher apologized to his victims in court. Newsday TV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Anthony Florio

A Bayport man who admitted he sent dozens of hate-filled letters — many threatening horrific acts of violence — to LGBTQ+ organizations and Long Island business leaders was sentenced in federal court to 30 months in prison Wednesday.

Robert Fehring, 74, apologized to his victims before he was sentenced, saying his actions were those of “a stupid old man.” 

“I am so sorry for what I have done,” said Fehring. “We all make mistakes and I made a bunch of them."

Fehring’s attorney, Glenn Obedin of Central Islip, asked the judge for leniency, saying that his client had no prior criminal record and has struggled with a host of health issues, including depression and anxiety. Obedin said Fehring’s rage against the LGBTQ+ community might have been sparked by sexual abuse he suffered as a boy from an older male relative.

Fehring's victims said they were furious after U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert sentenced the former Bellport High School teacher, band director and track coach in Central Islip federal court. They argued that Fehring, who terrorized them for years, should have received the maximum sentence: 60 months in prison. 

Many victims said they have spent the past few years fearing that they would be victims of a mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ event or attacked in their businesses or homes. They also expressed fears that Fehring, who does not have to report to prison until Sept. 2, will follow up on his threats of violence before he goes to prison.

David Kilmnick, the president of the LGBT Network and one of Fehring’s primary targets, said he lost nearly 10 years of his life living in fear that he would be killed. “Why does this person get only 30 months?” Kilmnick asked after the sentencing.

“We are disgusted by the sentence,” said Eileen Tyznar, the president of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce and one of Fehring’s victims. “The judge took into consideration his age and his mental health but what about the mental health of the victims?”

“I grew up in Sayville and live there now,” said Cailtlyn Collins, a Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce board member. I opened a business there 10 years ago as a young, single woman because I felt a sense of security and safety within my town. That is gone now. I don’t have a sense of security any more. I don’t feel safe any more.”

Fehring pleaded guilty to mailing threatening communications through the U.S. Postal Service in February. The judge ordered him to surrendered to prison officials on Sept. 2 to begin his sentence.

"I didn’t intend to hurt anyone,” Fehring told the victims before his sentence.

Federal prosecutors said the FBI seized two shotguns, two stun guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when they executed a search warrant at his home in November 2021. They also found a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ+ affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird.

Federal prosecutors said Fehring sent 60 menacing letters from 2013 to 2021 to leaders of the LGBTQ+ community and business leaders who promoted pride events on Long Island, including a June 2021 letter, threatening to use a high-powered rifle if Kilmnick showed up at Long Island Pride Festival in Eisenhower Park in Nassau County.

Two letters threatened an attack on an LGBTQ+ event in Huntington that would rival the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, according to prosecutors. In another letter, Fehring said he would use radio-controlled explosives to bomb a Long Beach club that had hosted an LGBTQ+ event, prosecutors said.

Fehring also sent a letter to the owners of the Stonewall Inn — the Manhattan nightspot widely considered to be the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement — that threatened to bomb the iconic bar or  beat its patrons into a “bloody pool of steaming flesh,” prosecutors said.

Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement that his office won't tolerate violence.

"Threats to kill and commit acts of violence against the LGBTQ+ community will be met with significant punishment,” he said. “We will use the full power of our office to bring to justice those who threaten to kill or hurt people because of who they are, and to ensure everyone in our district is able to live authentically, safely and in peace.”

A Bayport man who admitted he sent dozens of hate-filled letters — many threatening horrific acts of violence — to LGBTQ+ organizations and Long Island business leaders was sentenced in federal court to 30 months in prison Wednesday.

Robert Fehring, 74, apologized to his victims before he was sentenced, saying his actions were those of “a stupid old man.” 

“I am so sorry for what I have done,” said Fehring. “We all make mistakes and I made a bunch of them."

Fehring’s attorney, Glenn Obedin of Central Islip, asked the judge for leniency, saying that his client had no prior criminal record and has struggled with a host of health issues, including depression and anxiety. Obedin said Fehring’s rage against the LGBTQ+ community might have been sparked by sexual abuse he suffered as a boy from an older male relative.

Fehring's victims said they were furious after U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert sentenced the former Bellport High School teacher, band director and track coach in Central Islip federal court. They argued that Fehring, who terrorized them for years, should have received the maximum sentence: 60 months in prison. 

Many victims said they have spent the past few years fearing that they would be victims of a mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ event or attacked in their businesses or homes. They also expressed fears that Fehring, who does not have to report to prison until Sept. 2, will follow up on his threats of violence before he goes to prison.

David Kilmnick, the president of the LGBT Network and one of Fehring’s primary targets, said he lost nearly 10 years of his life living in fear that he would be killed. “Why does this person get only 30 months?” Kilmnick asked after the sentencing.

“We are disgusted by the sentence,” said Eileen Tyznar, the president of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce and one of Fehring’s victims. “The judge took into consideration his age and his mental health but what about the mental health of the victims?”

“I grew up in Sayville and live there now,” said Cailtlyn Collins, a Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce board member. I opened a business there 10 years ago as a young, single woman because I felt a sense of security and safety within my town. That is gone now. I don’t have a sense of security any more. I don’t feel safe any more.”

Fehring pleaded guilty to mailing threatening communications through the U.S. Postal Service in February. The judge ordered him to surrendered to prison officials on Sept. 2 to begin his sentence.

"I didn’t intend to hurt anyone,” Fehring told the victims before his sentence.

Federal prosecutors said the FBI seized two shotguns, two stun guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when they executed a search warrant at his home in November 2021. They also found a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ+ affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird.

Federal prosecutors said Fehring sent 60 menacing letters from 2013 to 2021 to leaders of the LGBTQ+ community and business leaders who promoted pride events on Long Island, including a June 2021 letter, threatening to use a high-powered rifle if Kilmnick showed up at Long Island Pride Festival in Eisenhower Park in Nassau County.

Two letters threatened an attack on an LGBTQ+ event in Huntington that would rival the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, according to prosecutors. In another letter, Fehring said he would use radio-controlled explosives to bomb a Long Beach club that had hosted an LGBTQ+ event, prosecutors said.

Fehring also sent a letter to the owners of the Stonewall Inn — the Manhattan nightspot widely considered to be the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement — that threatened to bomb the iconic bar or  beat its patrons into a “bloody pool of steaming flesh,” prosecutors said.

Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement that his office won't tolerate violence.

"Threats to kill and commit acts of violence against the LGBTQ+ community will be met with significant punishment,” he said. “We will use the full power of our office to bring to justice those who threaten to kill or hurt people because of who they are, and to ensure everyone in our district is able to live authentically, safely and in peace.”

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