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Calif. man charged with threatening Obama

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Northern California man remained in federal custody without bail Friday after being charged with sending racist, profanity-laced e-mail threatening to kill President Barack Obama and his family.

John Gimbel, 59, of Crescent City was arrested Oct. 6 by U.S. Secret Service officers and indicted two days before the president's Thursday appearances at a pair of Democratic fundraisers in the city.

He is accused of sending the message to Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, a Louisville newspaper and about 70 other people on Sept. 28.

Gimbel is scheduled to be arraigned Monday. Randall Davis, a defense lawyer assigned to serve as Gimbel's co-counsel because Gimbel wants to represent himself, said he expects him to plead not guilty.

"He contends he didn't violate the law" and only was exercising his free speech rights," Davis said.

The e-mail rambled on and included specific references to first lady Michelle Obama and the phrase, "do it to his children and family first in front of him. Failure to comply. That'll teach him," according to the indictment.

A similar e-mail was sent earlier in the month, according to a criminal complaint prepared by the Secret Service.

When officers interviewed Gimbel at his home, he admitted sending the first message but said he wanted to get attention, not hurt Obama, authorities said.

He was warned that he would be prosecuted if he sent any more.

The Secret Service listed a history of more volatile e-mails directed at President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the Crescent City police chief over the past two years.

In seeking an arrest warrant, authorities asked for permission to enter Gimbel's house without knocking because sheriff's deputies had found him with a loaded handgun during an earlier arrest and some of his e-mails included threats against law enforcement officers.