An Indiana man gets 14 months after guilty plea to threatening a Michigan election official in 2020

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DETROIT– An Indiana man has been sentenced to 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to pose a violent threat to a local election official in Michigan shortly after the 2020 election.

A federal judge on Tuesday convicted Andrew Nickels, 38, of Carmel, Indiana, of threatening to kill a suburban Detroit government worker. The news from Detroit reported. He had pleaded guilty in February to convey threats in interstate commerce.

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In a voicemail left on Nov. 10, 2020, Nickels threatened to kill Tina Barton, a Republican who was then a clerk in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Investigators said he accused her of fraud and that she deserved a “knife’s throat” for saying there were no irregularities in the 2020 election.

Then-President Donald Trump alleged election irregularities in Michigan and elsewhere after his 2020 loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Republican lawmakers in Michigan spent months investigating the 2020 presidential election and discovered no widespread or systematic fraudand concluded that Biden had won the state.

Barton said in a victim impact statement: “No one should have to live in fear for their life or endure the trauma that was inflicted on me — especially those dedicated to ensuring the fair and accurate conduct of our elections.”

She is now vice chair of the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, a national group. The group’s chairman, former Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Paul Penzone, said in a statement Tuesday that Nickels’ sentence “sends a message to election officials across the country that threats against them will be taken seriously and that those who engage in such behavior will be held accountable.”

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Prosecutors had sought a minimum sentence of 24 months for Nickels, arguing that a more severe sentence for terrorism was justified because it exceeded the 10-16 month sentence calculated by the probation service.

Defense attorney Steven Scharg said a prison sentence was not warranted for his client. He said Nickels had no criminal history and was not taking his medication at the time of the offense for a mental health condition diagnosed in 2008.

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