A Miami-area nurse has pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Vice President Kamala Harris in videos sent to her jailed husband earlier this year, officials said.
Niviane Petit Phelps, 39, who pleaded guilty on Friday to six counts, faces up to five years in prison, prosecutors said. The sentence is set for November 19.
In February, Phelps sent her incarcerated husband six 30-second videos in which she threatened to kill Harris and claimed she had been paid $ 53,000 and was “the hitman,” officials said. She also sent a photo of herself with a handgun at a shooting range and applied for a concealed firearms license.
Her lawyer, Scott Saul, said on Tuesday that Phelps was going through a tumultuous time in her life and was letting off steam and never intended to follow through on threats.
“Ms. Phelps led an honorable life until this incident,” Saul said, adding that it was important for her to accept her responsibility. “Ms. Phelps has pleaded guilty, but she plans to show significant mitigating circumstances.”
Phelps told a Secret Service investigator that she was upset that Harris was vice president, that she felt Harris was not really black, and that she believed Harris hadn’t got his hands on a Bible upon his inauguration, the investigator wrote in an affidavit. Phelps is black.
Harris, who laid her hand on the Bible when she was sworn in, is the first Black American, the first American of South Asian descent, and the first woman to be elected Vice President in U.S. history.
Phelps’ mother told NBC Miami her daughter was depressed and desperate and “she listened to what people tell her.”
The videos were sent via JPay, a computer application used to send media to inmates. An inspector sent them to the secret service.
It’s up to the judge to impose a sentence, but Saul said Phelps could fall under advisory guidelines ranging from around 30 months to three years in prison. He said he would seek a sentence that does not involve jail.