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Indiana man indicted in threats about 2020 election results pleads guilty

Robert Snell, The Detroit News on

Published in Political News

DETROIT — An Indiana man accused of threatening to kill former Rochester Hills Clerk Tina Barton for defending the integrity of the 2020 presidential election pleaded guilty Tuesday, a development coinciding with Michigan's 2024 presidential primary election.

Andrew Nickels, 37, of Carmel, Indiana, entered the guilty plea in front of U.S. District Judge Laurie Michelson in federal court in Detroit. He pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting threats in interstate commerce, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

“This case shows how mental health affects so many people,” his lawyer Steve Scharg told The Detroit News. “I wish we had more treatments available for helping people with mental health issues.”

Sentencing is set for July 9.

The plea came six months after federal prosecutors accused Nickels of telling Barton that more than 10 million patriots "will surround you when you least expect it."

"We're watching your ... mouth talk about how you think that there's no irregularities. … You frauded out America of a real election," Nickels said in a voicemail message on Nov. 10, 2020, according to the indictment. "Ten million plus patriots will surround you when you least expect it, and your little infantile Deep State security agency has no time to protect you because they'll be bought out and we'll f------ kill you."

 

The criminal case was filed amid an increasing threat of domestic terrorism, particularly by people accused of holding anti-government and racially or ethnically motivated, violent extremist views, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report last year.

"Today marks a win for election officials all over the country," Barton wrote in a message posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

"Today’s guilty plea serves as a reminder that no matter who you are, where you come from, or what political beliefs you hold, if you break the law you will be held accountable for your actions," Barton added.

The number of open FBI investigations into domestic terrorism has more than quadrupled since 2013.

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