Ohio Man Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Prison for Threatening Arizona Election Official

(BrightPress.org) – Forty-six-year-old Joshua Russell of Bucyrus, Ohio was sentenced on Monday, March 25th, to two and a half years in prison for leaving death threats in voicemails for Katie Hobbs, Secretary of State during the 2022 election season. Hobbs, now the governor of Arizona, was the state’s top election official and helped certify Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

Russell was indicted in December 2022 and pleaded guilty at his trial to one count of “making an interstate threat.” Russell left several voice messages for Hobbs during midterm elections from August to November 2022. Hobbs was running for governor of Arizona at the time. The messages were violent in nature, with Russell calling Hobbs a traitor and threatening to kill her.

U.S. District Judge Steven Logan acknowledged Russell’s progress and participation in substance abuse treatment and counseling since his arrest, but declared Russell must serve time in prison for the trauma he caused to the people working in the secretary of state’s office during the time the threats were made, saying “None of these people deserved it.”

Russell wrote a letter of apology addressed to Hobbs explaining that he is being treated for anger issues, and drug and alcohol abuse. He claims these issues contributed to his behavior. He also explained in the letter that he became addicted to social media and news reports which fueled his depression, anger, and anxiety.

Hobbs said the threats from Russell were only a small portion of the thousands of threats she received for certifying Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election. She was required at times to have 24-hour security.

Russell’s case is one of many brought by the U.S. Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. John Keller, the department’s leader stated that death threats are not protected by the First Amendment and “do not contribute to the marketplace of ideas.” He emphasized that death threats are criminal and will be met with the “full force” of the Justice Department.

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