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Justice Department announces sentencing, arrest over election threats

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A Nebraska man was sentenced to 18 months in prison for making threats against Colorado's Secretary of State Jena Griswold, while an Iowa man was charged with making threats against Arizona elections officials. File Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/d442dae8c2a22deb950bb2cbac89df32/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A Nebraska man was sentenced to 18 months in prison for making threats against Colorado's Secretary of State Jena Griswold, while an Iowa man was charged with making threats against Arizona elections officials. File Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The Justice Department on Thursday announced two actions involving threats against election officials, leading to the sentencing of a Nebraska man in one incident and the arrest of an Iowa man in a separate investigation.

A federal judge sentenced Travis Ford, 42, of Lincoln, Neb., to 18 months in prison for making multiple threats on Instagram in connection with an election official. Ford made the threats against Colorado's Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat. He entered a guilty plea for making the threat to a public official.

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Ford invoked the name of wealthy philanthropist George Soros, in his threats.

"Do you think Soros will/can protect you? Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent to protect you," Ford said in one of his threats, according to the Justice Department. "This world is unpredictable these days. Anything can happen to anyone."

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In another case, Mark A. Rissi, 64, of Hiawatha, Iowa, was arrested in that state for allegedly sending a threatening communication to an election official on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona and the Office of the Arizona Attorney General.

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A federal indictment said Rissi allegedly left a voicemail for the election official in September of 2021 with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, telling him, according to the Justice Department: "You're gonna die, you piece of [expletive]. We're going to hang you. We're going to hang you."

Rissi allegedly followed up with a message to the Arizona Attorney General's office in December of 2021, saying: "Do your job, [VICTIM], or you will hang with those [expletive] in the end. We will see to it. Torches and pitchforks. That's your future, [expletive]. Do your job."

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Rissi is charged with two counts of making a threatening interstate communication and one count of making a threatening telephone call.

"Make no mistake, threatening election officials is a serious attack on our democratic process," said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement. "Today's sentence [of Ford] proves that the FBI and our partners will stand up to anyone who attempts to intimidate election workers for doing their jobs.

"The American voting system is secure and we are dedicated to ensuring it stays that way."

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