Man charged with mak­ing death threats over news­pa­per editorials

Manteca Bulletin - - Local/state -

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — A Los An­ge­les man up­set about The Bos­ton Globe’s co­or­di­nated ed­i­to­rial re­sponse to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s at­tacks on the news me­dia was ar­rested Thurs­day on charges he threat­ened to kill the news­pa­per’s jour­nal­ists, who he called an “en­emy of the peo­ple,” fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said.

Robert Chain’s phone calls to the Bos­ton news­room started im­me­di­ately af­ter the Globe ap­pealed to news­pa­pers across the coun­try to con­demn what it called a “dirty war against the free press,” pros­e­cu­tors said. He is ac­cused of mak­ing 14 calls be­tween Aug. 10 and Aug. 22.

On Aug. 16, the day scores of editorials were pub­lished , Chain, 68, of the En­cino sec­tion of Los An­ge­les, told a Globe staffer that he was go­ing to shoot em­ploy­ees in the head at 4 o’clock, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. That threat from a blocked phone num­ber prompted a po­lice re­sponse and in­creased se­cu­rity at the news­pa­per’s of­fices.

Chain said he would con­tinue threat­en­ing the Globe un­til it stops its “trea­sonous and sedi­tious” at­tacks on Trump, ac­cord­ing to a court com­plaint.

Sev­eral times, he called Globe em­ploy­ees the “en­emy of the peo­ple,” a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of jour­nal­ists that Trump has used re­peat­edly, in­clud­ing in a tweet on Thurs­day be­fore the charges were an­nounced.

News­rooms have re­ceived threats for years and rarely do they re­sult in charges. How­ever, sen­si­tiv­ity has been height­ened since a gun­man with a long-run­ning grudge against the Cap­i­tal Gazette news­pa­per in An­napo­lis, Mary­land, killed five em­ploy­ees there in June.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials pledged to con­tinue to go af­ter any­one who puts others in fear of their lives.

“In a time of in­creas­ing po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iza­tion, and amid the in­creas­ing in­ci­dence of mass shoot­ings, mem­bers of the pub­lic must po­lice their own po­lit­i­cal rhetoric. Or we will,” Mas­sachusetts U.S. At­tor­ney An­drew Lelling said.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors asked that Chain be de­tained be­cause of the se­ri­ous­ness of the threats com­bined with the fact that more than 20 guns and hun­dreds of rounds of am­mu­ni­tion were seized from his house. Some guns were in plain sight, such as a shot­gun by the front door, while others were hid­den, As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Matt Rosen­baum said.

Rosen­baum ac­knowl­edged there was no ev­i­dence Chain, who is re­tired from the in­ter­na­tional sales and trade busi­ness, had planned to go to Bos­ton. A fed­eral mag­is­trate re­jected claims that Chain, who has no crim­i­nal record, was a flight risk or a dan­ger that re­quired him to be held be­hind bars.

Mag­is­trate Judge Paul Abrams said Chain could be freed af­ter he and his wife, who is a lawyer, signed pa­pers guar­an­tee­ing to pay $50,000 if he vi­o­lates any terms of his re­lease, which in­clude sur­ren­der­ing his pass­port and any other guns.

“I don’t think it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to keep him in cus­tody for a night,” Abrams said in re­ject­ing a prose­cu­tor’s re­quest to stay his or­der so they could ap­peal to have him held.

Chain, who re­peat­edly pulled at his long, dark hair that was dyed ma­genta at the ends, thanked the judge in a deep grav­elly voice.

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