Mass. man sentenced for threatening to blow up Arizona secretary of state

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday warned those that threaten election officials will be held accountable by the Justice Department. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday warned those that threaten election officials will be held accountable by the Justice Department. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

March 13 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts man who pleaded guilty to threatening to blow up the Arizona secretary of state in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol building has been sentenced to jail, according to prosecutors.

James Clark, 38, of Falmouth, Mass., was sentenced Tuesday to three and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of making a threatening interstate communication in August.


The conviction is the latest development in cases brought by the Justice Department's Election Threats Task Force launched in June 2021 to deal with the surge in threats directed at election officials following the 2020 election that saw incumbent President Donald Trump lose to Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Following the election, Trump led a campaign undermining the election results that would come to be known as the Big Lie, which culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection attempt.


Prosecutors accused Clark of sending the office of then-Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs a message on Feb. 14, 2021, warning that if she did not resign within two days "the explosive device impacted in her personal space will be detonated."

After sending the message via the Arizona secretary of state's website, Clark searched online for Hobb's address, according to prosecutors. Clark was also accused by prosecutors of searching Hobb's name alongside "how to kill" as well as for information on the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Law enforcement conducted evacuations and bomb sweeps of the building where the Arizona Secretary of State's office is located as well as the personal residences and official vehicles of election officials.

"Those using illegal threats of violence to intimidate election workers should know that the Justice Department will find you and hold you accountable under the law," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

"The defendant in this case will spend the next three years and six months in federal prison for threatening an Arizona election official. We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute such unlawful threats of violence."


The Election Threats Task Force has brought charges against a number of people accused of threatening election workers, with many of the alleged crimes targeting Arizona officials.

On Feb. 28, an Alabama man was arrested and charged over leaving Arizona election officials in Maricopa County nearly 20 threatening messages on social media in August of 2022.

On Feb. 27, an Indiana man pleaded guilty to threatening to kill a Michigan election worker in the days following the 2020 general election.

Hobbs, who has since been elected the governor of Arizona, has also been the subject of several of the threats.

Amid her gubernatorial race, a 64-year-old Iowa man was arrested for threatening her and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in connection to debunked claims of voter fraud in the state during the 2020 general election.

"Public servants who ensure our free and fair elections must be able to do their jobs without fear," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole Argentieri, head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, said Tuesday in a statement. "The Criminal Division will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who target election officials with threats of violence."


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