Crime - Sacto 911

Man sentenced for threatening exec at Placerville biotech firm linked to Planned Parenthood

Cate Dyer, chief executive officer and founder of StemExpress, poses at the company's office in Placerville, on Sept. 8, 2015.
Cate Dyer, chief executive officer and founder of StemExpress, poses at the company's office in Placerville, on Sept. 8, 2015. AP

A Washington state man who threatened the founder of a Placerville biotech firm and its employees was sentenced Tuesday in Sacramento federal court to a year and a day in prison for transmitting interstate threats.

Prosecutors sought a year and a half, but U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez lowered the term because he is encouraged by the way Scott Anthony Orton has “addressed the root cause of his criminal behavior.”

A sentencing memorandum filed last week by his lawyer says that since his arrest and release on bond, Orton “has attended many hours of anger-management classes and sought therapy to determine the underlying cause” of his vehement reaction to a 2015 post on YouTube of a surreptitiously recorded video in which StemExpress LLC is identified as a recipient of fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood.

The video went viral.

Two days later, Orton posted his first message on the Internet: “The management of StemExpress should be taken by force and killed in the streets today,” according to a log of the messages included in court papers.

Over the next four hours, according to the log, Orton posted 18 additional messages on the FoxNation website, including “Kill StemExpress employees. I’ll pay you for it,” and, “Stop the death of innocents. Kill the killers,” and“I think I’ll take a little trip to Placerville this weekend. I hear there’s some good hunting down Placerville way.”

The FBI traced the messages to Orton. He was arrested in December and pleaded guilty in April.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Brian Fogerty said at Tuesday’s hearing that Catherine “Cate” Dyer, CEO of StemExpress, has spent “more than $100,000” since Orton’s threatening posts to provide security for her employees, herself and her family. StemExpress cut its ties to Planned Parenthood in the midst of the controversy.

In a prepared statement, Dyer said Tuesday that Orton’s threats “took a toll on everyone here at StemExpress.”

Orton, 57, declined to address Mendez on Tuesday, but in the sentencing memorandum he is quoted as saying: “I have caused people I do not know to be fearful of me and change their lives, and for that I am immensely embarrassed and distressed. … Words cannot express my gratitude and thankfulness that no one was hurt by my thoughtless, irresponsible rant.”

Orton believes his reaction to the video was prompted by a “latent remorse and regret over the two children of (his) who were aborted at Planned Parenthood clinics with (his) approval and support in 1980 and 1988,” the memorandum says.

Orton was ordered to surrender Dec. 6. Mendez set a hearing for Jan. 17 to determine Orton’s restitution. The Puyallup, Wash., resident will then spend three years on probation in Washington.

Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189