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Indiana man pleads guilty to threatening Michigan election official after 2020 election

DETROIT (AP) — An Indiana man accused of making a violent threat against a local election official in Michigan in 2020 pleaded guilty to the charge Tuesday.

Andrew Nickels of Carmel appeared in federal court on the day of Michigan’s presidential primary.

A voicemail was left on Nov. 10, 2020, a week after the last presidential election, threatening to kill a suburban Detroit clerk and accusing her of fraud, investigators said. Nickels said the clerk deserved a “throat to the knife” for saying that there were no irregularities in the election, investigators said.

Then-President Donald Trump, who lost to Joe Biden, made that claim in Michigan and elsewhere. Trump and Biden were on the state’s presidential primary ballots for their respective parties Tuesday. Each is expected to win the nomination.

The victim of the 2020 threat was not identified in court documents. But Tina Barton, a Republican who was the clerk in Rochester Hills during that election, referred to the case on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This has not been an easy thing for me & my family to go through for the last 2.5+ years,” Barton said last August when Nickels was indicted.

She thanked federal investigators for their “persistence, bravery and courage.”

In the voicemail, Barton was warned that “10 million-plus patriots will surround you when you least expect it.”

Defense attorney Steve Scharg told The Detroit News that Nickels was struggling with his mental health.

“I wish we had more treatments available for helping people with mental health issues,” he said.

Nickels will return to court for his sentence on July 9. The maximum penalty for making a threatening interstate communication is five years in prison.

The Associated Press

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