MIAMI — A man who authorities said kept an arsenal of weaponry and military gear pleaded not guilty Wednesday to threatening to assassinate both President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The court-appointed attorney for 22-year-old Raymond Hunter Geisel entered the plea at a brief hearing before a federal magistrate judge. Geisel, who has been in custody without bail since his Aug. 2 arrest, spoke only his name and age.
Geisel had previously been charged for threatening to kill Obama. The new charge of making a threat against Bush was added in a grand jury indictment made public Wednesday. Each charge carries a maximum of five years in federal prison.
According to the Secret Service, Geisel made the threats while attending a training class in Miami to become a bail bondsman. Others attending the 48-member class overheard the comments and contacted local police, who turned the information over to the Secret Service.
One unidentified student said that during one of the classes, Geisel referred to Obama using a racial slur and then added, "If he gets elected, I'll assassinate him myself."
Another female student, also not identified, told a Secret Service agent that one day after class she heard Geisel say "that he hated George W. Bush and that he wanted to put a bullet in the president's head."
A search of Geisel's hotel room and sports-utility vehicle turned up a loaded 9mm handgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, body armor, a stun gun, a machete, combat knives, tear gas and military fatigue uniforms. The 1998 Ford Explorer also was wired with "police-type emergency lights," according to a Secret Service affidavit.
Geisel is originally from the Bangor, Maine area and moved earlier this year to South Florida. He provided a written statement with misspelled words to the Secret Service denying any threats.
"I Ray Geisel did not say I was going to kill any president or Senter Obama," the statement reads. Geisel also told agents that he had sought psychiatric treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, although they were not immediately able to verify that.
No evidence has been made public indicating that Geisel took any steps to carry out such threats. Obama did make a campaign visit to Florida around the time of his arrest, but he was never in the Miami area. Bush was in Kennebunkport, Maine, at the time, the Secret Service said.
Geisel's girlfriend, Susanne Kynast, attended the hearing but declined to comment, as did Geisel's attorney, Ayana Harris. But in an earlier interview, Kynast said the comments must have been misinterpreted and that Geisel was not violent or particularly interested in politics.
"It's a mistake. It's a non-case. It's a horrifying political mess," Kynast said. "He'd never hurt a person. It would be completely against his character."
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