• Alleged threats prompt federal charges
     | April 14,2012

    RUTLAND — A Brattleboro man is facing federal charges after police say he mailed a number of threats, including those sent to Gov. Peter Shumlin and President Barack Obama, from the Springfield jail.

    A federal grand jury has handed up a four-count indictment against 21-year-old Dakota Gardner. In addition to the threats against the governor and president, the indictment described threats to harm employees at the Social Security Administration in Rutland and to blow up the Asa Bloomer Building there.

    The charges carry a total potential maximum of 25 years in prison, though federal sentencing guidelines take a number of factors into account that might reduce that number.

    State and federal officials cooperated in a joint investigation, and the executive protection unit of the Vermont State Police said Wednesday that Gardner had been cited April 5 on three charges of disorderly conduct.

    Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand said he chose not to file charges, making way for the federal prosecution, because the only state statute he could apply was disorderly conduct, which carries a 60-day maximum.

    “One of the things that this case may point out is there are inadequate state charges to address threats to public officials,” he said. “If something good can come of this case it is a legislative review of those laws.”

    While threats tied to a judicial proceeding might also garner an obstruction of justice charge, Sand said Vermont lacks specific prohibitions against threatening public officials. He also said that the Legislature has previously reviewed and rejected such a proposed statute.

    Sand referred other questions to the United States attorney’s office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, reached late Wednesday afternoon, said she did not want to release any information that had not already been made public.

    The handful of specifics in the indictment include that the threat to kidnap and injure Shumlin extended to his wife and children and that Gardner threatened at least one Social Security employee by name.

    According to court records, Gardner was serving an 18- to 24-month sentence for aggravated assault. The sentence was originally suspended after his April 2010 conviction, but his probation was revoked following violations later that year.

    @Tagline:gordon.dritschilo @rutlandherald.com

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