California man accused of leaving threatening voicemails for Arizona elections official

Feb 23, 2024, 4:35 AM | Updated: 9:37 am

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies stand guard in front of the Maricopa County Tabulation an...

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies stand guard in front of the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on Nov. 9, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona. A California man was arrested Feb. 22, 2024, for allegedly threatening an Arizona official after the 2022 election. (File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A California man was arrested Thursday for allegedly threatening an Arizona elections official, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

William Hyde, 52, was arrested in San Diego, the Justice Department said. He was scheduled to appear in a federal courthouse on Friday.

Hyde is accused of sending two threatening voicemails to an official with the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office on Nov. 29, 2022.

Who was the target of threatening voicemails?

The Justice Department didn’t identify the victim in Thursday’s announcement, but recorder Stephen Richer appeared to confirm in a social media post that he was the target of Hyde’s threats.

“Number 3 and counting for me. … The completely foreseeable consequences of ‘leaders’ repeatedly lying about elections. Thanks, as always, to law enforcement for enforcing the law,” Richer wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

In August 2022, a Texas man was sentenced to 3½ years in federal prison for online threats made against Richer and other Maricopa County elections officials and workers.

That same month, a Missouri man was indicted for allegedly leaving a threating voicemail on Richer’s personal cellphone.

What are the details of new election threat case?

Hyde’s messages came one day after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors certified the 2022 general election results in Maricopa County, the Justice Department said.

The victim attended the meeting, during which the board shared a full accounting of all ballots cast in the 2022 election.

Hyde was incensed, officials said. One day after the meeting, he sent the official a voicemail saying, “Run, (expletive),” the Justice Department said.

Hyde allegedly sent a follow-up message one minute later saying, “You wanna cheat our elections? You wanna screw Americans out of true votes? We’re coming, (expletive). You’d better (expletive) hide.”

He sent both messages to the victim’s personal cell phone, the Justice Department said.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Gary Restaino said election workers in the Grand Canyon state deserve better.

“Election integrity starts with protecting those we entrust to administer elections,” Restaino said. “We appreciate the admirable efforts of the recorder’s office and elections department in Maricopa County to efficiently register Arizonans as eligible voters and to accurately and transparently tabulate their votes.”

How much prison time does suspect face?

Hyde faces one charge of sending an interstate threat, officials said. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

This case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force, which investigates threats against U.S. election officials.

The prosecutors in this case are Tanya Senanayake and Seth Askins.

Senanayake is a trial attorney with the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Askins is an attorney with the Southern District of California.

U.S. Attorney Mary Sue Feldmeier for the District of Arizona is providing “substantial assistance” to Senanayake and Askins, the Justice Department said.

The FBI Phoenix field office is also assisting the FBI San Diego field office in its investigation.

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California man accused of leaving threatening voicemails for Arizona elections official