AURORA | A man police say threatened Aurora Rep. Rhonda Fields over her support of gun control legislation faces as many as six years in prison, Denver prosecutors said Monday.
Prosecutors formally charged Franklin Sain, 42, with felony attempt to influence a public servant and misdemeanor harassment-ethnic intimidation Monday.
Police say that from Feb. 13 to Feb. 21 Sain sent several harassing and threatening emails to the Aurora Democrat.
The emails, which became public last week after Sain’s arrest, included racial and sexual slurs and in one, Sain said “I’m coming for you.”
Sain’s lawyers have said the military veteran was practicing free speech when he sent the emails.
Sain is free on bail and is scheduled to appear in Denver County Court on Friday to be advised of the charges.
Colorado lawmakers are bracing themselves for after they heard a half dozen gun bills Monday in the Senate. Some of the bills include proposals from Fields that have already cleared the House, such as requiring background checks for all gun sales and reducing the size of ammunition magazines.
“There is this extremist element where it does feel dangerous to stand up,” said Colorado state Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, a Democrat who will be voting on the bills Monday. Ulibarri received a letter from someone who said they hope the senator’s daughter is raped. Ulibarri has a 2-year-old girl.
Democrats say many of the emails and phone calls they are receiving are from out of state, or from people who don’t live in their district.
Not all of the emails have been negative. Both Democrats and Republicans say they’ve gotten many emails in support of their parties’ positions on gun laws.
Colorado Senate Republicans said they’ve received thousands of emails, most of them urging lawmakers to protect the Second Amendment. Republican Sen. Kevin Grantham said he alone has received about 3,000 messages this session.
One read, “As a law enforcement professional, I prefer that the general public is armed.”
“People are worried about losing their gun rights,” Grantham said. “That’s the theme. It comes in different shades and stripes, but it’s that people are worried about their Second Amendment rights.”
The emails directed at Fields, a black lawmaker, last month contained racial slurs throughout. One directed to her and another lawmaker co-sponsoring gun legislation read, “hopefully somebody Gifords both of” you, apparently referring to the shooting in Arizona that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
It was an unsigned letter with no return address that drew concerns about a serious threat. It listed Fields and her daughter with the comment, “Death to Both.” The letter also exclaimed, “There Will Be Blood!”
Sain was suspended from his job as chief operating officer of an information technology firm.
Englewood-based SofTec Solutions Inc. said in a written statement Tuesday that it was shocked to learn of the allegations against Sain.
SofTec Solutions Inc. said Sain has been suspended pending a company investigation. It says it is a minority-owned, small business that won’t tolerate racial, sexual, gender-based slurs or threats of violence by employees.
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