Indiana man indicted in threats made to Michigan municipal clerk following 2020 election

Aug 11, 2023, 1:33 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm

DETROIT (AP) — A 37-year-old central Indiana man has been indicted in connection with a telephone threat made to a municipal clerk in Michigan following the 2020 presidential election.

Andrew Nickels, of Carmel, a suburb of Indianapolis, appeared Friday in federal court in Detroit on one count of making a threatening interstate communication, the U.S. Justice Department said in a release.

Nickels pleaded not guilty and was released Friday on a $10,000 bond, his attorney Steven Scharg said.

The case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force launched in 2021 to address threats of violence against election workers and to ensure they are able to do their jobs free from intimidation, the Justice Department said.

Scharg told The Associated Press he does not yet have any details of the case from prosecutors, but added “knowing my client, there’s no way in the world he would hurt anyone.”

An expletive-laced voicemail was left on or about Nov. 10, 2020, threatening to kill the clerk and accusing the clerk of fraud, the Justice Department said.

“(You) frauded out America of a real election. … Guess what, you’re gonna pay for it, you will pay for it,” court documents stated the caller said.

“(Then) million plus patriots will surround you when you least expect it,” the caller continued.

The clerk and municipality were not named in the release, but Tina Barton, a Republican who served as clerk of Detroit suburb Rochester Hills from 2013 to 2021, referred to the case in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Today I’m relieved to know that the man who officials believe is responsible for making explicit and terrifying death threats against me & my family has been identified,” Barton wrote. “This has not been an easy thing for me & my family to go through for the last 2.5+ years.”

Threats against public officials have become increasingly common in Michigan in recent years. A plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was broken up by the FBI in 2020, and prosecutors have so far secured nine convictions in the case in state and federal courts.

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Indiana man indicted in threats made to Michigan municipal clerk following 2020 election