A federal grand jury in Phoenix returned an indictment today charging an Ohio man for allegedly sending threatening communications to an election official with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.
According to court documents, on or about Aug. 2, Joshua Russell, 44, of Bucyrus, allegedly left the following voicemail for an election official with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office (Victim‑1): “This message is for traitor [Victim-1’s full name]. You’ve drug your feet, you’ve done nothing, to protect our election for 2020. You’re committing election fraud, you’re starting to do it again, from day one. You’re the enemy of the United States, you’re a traitor to this country, and you better put your sh[inaudible], your [expletive] affairs in order, ’cause your days [inaudible] are extremely numbered. America’s coming for you, and you will pay with your life, you communist [expletive] traitor [expletive].”
Additionally, according to the indictment, on or about Sept. 9, Russell allegedly left the following voicemail for Victim-1: “This message is for terrorist [Victim-1’s last name]. The only reason you’re still walking around on this planet is because we’re waiting for the midterms to see you prosecuted for the crimes you have done to our nation. You are a terrorist. You are a derelict criminal. And you have a few short months to see yourself behind bars, or we will see you to the grave. You are a traitor to this nation, and you will suffer the [expletive] consequences.”
Finally, according to the indictment, on or about Nov. 15, Russell allegedly left the following voicemail for Victim-1: “This message is for communist, criminal, [Victim-1’s full name]. We will not endure your crimes on America another day. You’ve been busted, over and over again. We will not wait for you to be drugged through court. A war is coming for you. The entire nation is coming for you. And we will stop, at no end, until you are in the ground. You’re a traitor to this nation. You’re a [expletive] piece of [expletive] communist, and you just signed your own death warrant. Get your affairs in order, cause, your days are very short.”
Russell is charged with three counts of making a threatening interstate communication and three counts of making a threatening interstate telephone call. He was arrested and made his initial court appearance on Dec. 12. If convicted, Russell faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each count of making a threatening interstate communication and two years in prison for each count of making a threatening interstate telephone call. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Gary M. Restaino for the District of Arizona, and Special Agent in Charge Akil Davis of the FBI Phoenix Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI Phoenix Field Office is investigating the case, with the assistance of the FBI Cleveland resident agency in Mansfield.
Trial Attorney Tanya Senanayake of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean K. Lokey for the District of Arizona are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. Announced by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and launched by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco in June 2021, the Task Force has led the department’s efforts to address threats of violence against election workers, and to ensure that all election workers — whether elected, appointed, or volunteer — are able to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation. The Task Force engages with the election community and state and local law enforcement to assess allegations and reports of threats against election workers, and has investigated and prosecuted these matters where appropriate, in partnership with FBI Field Offices and United States Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country. A year after its formation, the Task Force is continuing this work and supporting the United States Attorneys’ Offices and FBI Field Offices nationwide as they carry on the critical work that the Task Force has begun.
Under the leadership of Deputy Attorney General Monaco, the Task Force is led by the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and includes several other entities within the Department of Justice, including the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division, the Civil Rights Division, the National Security Division, and the FBI, as well as key interagency partners, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. For more information regarding the Justice Department’s efforts to combat threats against election workers, read the Deputy Attorney General’s memo.
To report suspected threats or violent acts, contact your local FBI office and request to speak with the Election Crimes Coordinator. Contact information for every FBI field office may be found here: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/. You may also contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or file an online complaint at: tips.fbi.gov. Complaints submitted will be reviewed by the Task Force and referred for investigation or response accordingly. If someone is in imminent danger or risk of harm, contact 911 or your local police immediately.