NORFOLK, Va. – A Virginia Beach man was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis for possessing a firearm as a felon after making threats to law enforcement officials, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District said.

Thomas Liddle, 28, and a co-conspirator made death threats to a Norfolk Police detective who is cross-designated as a FBI Task Force officer, as well as his family, according to court documents, with Liddle and the other person sending text messages to the task force officer’s cell phone with threats to kill him and his family.

They indicated that the two men knew where the Task Force officer and his wife lived and worked, and that person also received the calls, the court documents stated.

Norfolk Police and the FBI began jointly investigating the threats in March 2021.

Liddle had an arrest warrant out for him last December for failing to appear in court, and the Norfolk Police Department, acting on a tip regarding his location, observed him in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle, the court documents state. As he was being arrested, officers found a firearm in the pocket of Liddle’s pants, a Walther Creed, 9-millimeter pistol.

Liddle had previously been convicted in 2014 in Norfolk of robbery, burglary and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, making his possession of a firearm illegal, according to court documents.

After being arrested, Liddle admitted he was there when the threatening calls were made to the Task Force officer, court documents indicated. He had met the Task Force officer while hospitalized for overdosing on illegal narcotics, and the officer had asked him to cooperate with law enforcement.

However, Liddle admitted that he reached out to his drug dealer about the detective speaking with him, and he was advised to solicit a third party, the other conspirator, to “scare” the officer. He also had claimed, falsely, according to court documents, that the firearm recovered from his possession Dec. 5, 2021 had been put in his pocket by his girlfriend while he was sleeping.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham M. Stolle and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe DePadilla prosecuted the case, which is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.