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Man charged with threatening senator has 1st court hearing

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2018 file photo Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. participates in an interview at the The Atlantic's 'The Constitution in Crisis' forum in Washington. A man accused of threatening to kidnap and kill a United States senator and his family underwent his first court appearance in Chicago. James Dean Blevins was told Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, that the federal charges filed against him in Arizona accusing him of threatening an official identified only as "United States Senator J.F." could be transferred to Chicago if prosecutors don't object. Authorities have declined to provide the victim's full name, but Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake is the only senator with those initials. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — A man suspected of threatening to kidnap and kill a United States senator and his family had his first court appearance in Chicago.

James Dean Blevins was told Thursday that the federal charges filed against him in Arizona accusing him of threatening an official identified only as “United States Senator J.F.” could be transferred to Chicago if prosecutors don’t object.

Authorities have declined to provide the victim’s full name, but Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake is the only senator with those initials.

Flake said in late September that his family received death threats after he asked a Senate committee to hear testimony from a woman who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Attorney Robert Loeb, who represents Blevins, didn’t return a phone call and email seeking comment Friday on behalf of his client.

The indictment says the threat was made on Sept. 17 in Arizona and was done with the intent to “retaliate against such official on account of the performance of his official duties.”

Cosme Lopez, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix, declined Friday to release any details of the case against Blevins.

This isn’t the first case filed against someone who’s accused of threatening a senator over Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Ronald Derisi of Smithtown, New York, was charged Thursday with threatening to kill two U.S. senators supporting Kavanaugh’s confirmation, though prosecutors aren’t naming the senators who received the threatening messages.

Flake’s office didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and email Friday seeking comment on the indictment against Blevins.

In a speech in late September, Flake revealed a threat against his family as he described his push for Christine Blasey Ford to testify at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

“One man somewhere in the country called my office in Arizona and left a message saying that he was tired of me interrupting my president,” Flake said. “And for that offense of allowing Dr. Ford to be heard, for this offense, me and my family would be taken out.”

Kavanaugh was confirmed following contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearings over her claims that he had sexually assaulted her while the two were teenagers living in Maryland. Flake, who voted for the nomination, played a key role during the hearings when he requested an FBI investigation of the claims.

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Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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