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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tomah Man Found Guilty of Threatening the President

MADISON, WIS. -- John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, and Frank P. Benedetto, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Chicago Field Office, announced that Brian Dutcher, 55, Tomah, Wis., was convicted of two counts of threatening the life of the president of the United States, following a two-day jury trial in U.S. District Court in Madison.  The jury reached its verdict this afternoon after almost five hours of deliberation.

Dutcher travelled to La Crosse, Wis., on July 1, 2015, where President Barack Obama was scheduled to make a speech the next day.  While at the La Crosse Public Library, Dutcher told a library security officer that he was in La Crosse to shoot the president. 

Dutcher also threatened the life of the president in a posting he made on June 30, 2015, on Facebook.  He posted, “that’s it!  Thursday I will be in La Crosse.  Hopefully I will get a clear shot at the pretend president.  Killing him is our CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY!” 

United States Attorney Vaudreuil said, “The defendant threatened to kill the President because he disagrees with the President’s policies. The defense contended at trial that these threats were ‘merely political hyperbole.’  By their verdict, the jury rejected this argument.  While dissent and political discourse are protected speech under the First Amendment and the bedrock of democracy, a threat is not protected speech.  When the line is crossed from political disagreement to threatening the life of the President, those who make the threats will be prosecuted and convicted.”

U.S. District Judge William M. Conley scheduled sentencing for March 15, 2016, at 1:00 p.m.  Dutcher faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison on each count. 

The charges against Dutcher were the result of an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and the La Crosse Police Department.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie S. Pfluger and Jeffrey Anderson. 

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Updated January 12, 2016