Ex-weatherman who threatened health director gets probation

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A former Omaha TV weatherman and spokesman for a former mayor has been sentenced to two years of probation for emailing death threats to a local health department director over her handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ronald Penzkowski, 58, was sentenced Tuesday, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Penzkowski pleaded no contest earlier this year to two misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault. He initially had been charged with a felony count of making terroristic threats.

Penzkowski was arrested March 31 after investigators said he sent more than a dozen emails to Dr. Adi Pour, director of the Douglas County Health Department. The emails threatening to “lynch” Pour and slit her throat and cited Pour’s public health measures and recommendations for residents to stay home to help slow the spread of the virus, investigators said.

Authorities said Penzkowski tried to disguise the origin of the emails, but a forensics team was able to trace them to Penzkowski and a cellphone he owned.

Penzkowski served director of communications for former Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle a decade ago. Before that, he worked as a meteorologist at two different Omaha television stations under the name Ron Gerard.