Montana man intends to plead guilty to threatening US Sen. Jon Tester

Nov 27, 2023, 3:58 PM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man intends to plead guilty to threatening to kill Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester under the terms of a deal filed Monday by federal prosecutors.

Anthony James Cross of Billings faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing if the plea agreement is accepted by the court. A second charge based on allegations that Cross also threatened to kill President Joe Biden would be dismissed at sentencing, according to a court filing by his defense attorney.

A court date has not yet been scheduled.

Cross, 30, has been jailed since late April, when he was arrested on a state charge for allegedly threatening a neighbor with a pellet gun. He has pleaded not guilty to that charge and was scheduled to go on trial in late October but the proceeding has been delayed, according to court records.

Threats against public officials in the U.S. have been steadily climbing in recent years, including against members of Congress and their spouses, election workers and local elected officials.

Federal prosecutors alleged in a September indictment that Cross said, “I will personally kill Joe Biden,” on April 10 and threatened Tester’s life on April 17. The indictment did not indicate how the threats were made.

Cross’ federal defender, Gillian Gosch, did not return a voicemail seeking comment. A phone number for Cross’ attorney in the state case, Robert Kelleher Jr., repeatedly rang busy.

Tester’s office declined comment, and the White House did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The plea deal comes after another Montana man, Kevin Patrick Smith of Kalispell, was sentenced in August to 2 1/2 years in prison for threatening to kill Tester in voicemails left at his office in Kalispell.

A third Montana man accused of making threats against a high-ranking Washington official pleaded not guilty in October and is awaiting trial. Richard Lee Rogers of Billings has denied the allegations that he threatened during phone calls to assault and kill former Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Rogers’ attorney on Monday asked a judge to delay his trial that was scheduled to begin next month.

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Montana man intends to plead guilty to threatening US Sen. Jon Tester