Man accused of threatening President appears before trial judge

A Crescent City man accused of sending an e-mail threatening to kill President Obama and his family made his first appearance before a federal trial judge in San Francisco today.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel delayed setting a trial date for John Gimbel, 59, until another hearing on Nov. 16.
   
In the meantime, she urged Gimbel to reconsider his decision to act as his own lawyer in the criminal case.

Gimbel was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 13 on three counts of threatening the president in a Sept. 28 e-mail, threatening the president's immediate family and transmitting the threats through a medium of interstate communication.

In an affidavit filed with a complaint earlier this month. U.S. Secret Service Agent Russell Miller said the profanity-laced e-mail was sent to Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, a Kentucky newspaper and 70 other recipients.

Miller said in the affidavit that Gimbel has a history of sending messages over the past two years that threatened to kill former President George W. Bush, Obama and others.

During today's hearing, Gimbel asked Patel to dismiss the first two counts against him and sought to cite cases on First Amendment free-speech rights.

But Patel said a motion for dismissal would have to be made in writing at a later date.

Last week, Gimbel entered a plea of not guilty before a federal magistrate in Eureka.

Magistrate Nandor Vadas ordered him held without bail, saying that Gimbel is a danger to the community because of his access to handguns and his “repeated and bizarre threats over several years to local, state and federal officials.”

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