Man who threatened Michigan lawmakers sentenced to less than 1 year, probation

Man who threatened Michigan legislature sentenced to less than 1 year, probation
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 6:40 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The man who made a bomb threat against Michigan’s legislature has been sentenced. He will serve under one year in jail, followed by probation.

The Michigan State Police (MSP) said Michael Varrone called the Michigan State Capitol Facilities Control Office to make the threat at 6:40 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2021. It was just one day after a riot at the United States Capitol the Cline Center described as an attempted coup.

“We get threats now on the regular. It’s just sad,” said Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. “Our politics, the rhetoric has gotten too high.”

People who work in the Capitol were notified of the threat, and the MSP bomb squad was brought in to investigate it’s validity, finding there was no actual bomb.

“To wake up to an alert telling us to avoid going into the state capitol building is unfortunately becoming business as usual,” said Rep. Sarah Anthony.

Background: Michigan Capitol building reopens after bomb threat Thursday

Varrone was identified as a suspect in the Jan. 7 bomb threat, investigated, arrested and charged. He pleaded guilty to one count of false report or threat of bomb or harmful device, which is a four-year felony. In exchange for the plea, prosecution dropped two counts of false report of terrorism, which are 20-year felonies.

Judge Jamo sentenced Varrone to a year in jail, with three days served. Following the 362-day stint, Varrone will be required to be on probation for 36 months.

He will also be allowed to take a break from his jail sentence for one day in August, in order to attend his daughter’s wedding.

The Jan. 7 bomb threat is not the only instance in which Varrone was alleged to have tried to intimidate officials. He was accused of calling the Michigan House six times in December of 2020 and threatening both Rep. Cynthia Johnson and her family.

While in Ingham County Jail, Varrone will have access to mental health treatment and medicine. Judge Jamo said probation was appropriate because then the court can directly oversee the mental health treatment following the jail sentence.

Varrone’s wife was present at sentencing, but declined to speak on the matter.

The bomb threat from Varrone was less than a month after another use of intimidation to shut down U.S. government operations. The House and Senate office buildings were closed Dec. 14 over credible threats, although the Michigan’s electors still met and cast their 16 votes for Joe Biden, who won the state of Michigan by 154,000 votes.

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