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Published: Friday, 8/8/2008

Alleged death threat against candidate leads to arrest in Florida

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Geisel Geisel
AP Enlarge

MIAMI - A man who authorities said was keeping weapons and military-style gear in his hotel room and car appeared in court yesterday on charges he threatened to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Raymond Hunter Geisel, 22, was arrested by the Secret Service on Saturday in Miami and was ordered held at Miami's downtown detention center without bail by a federal magistrate yesterday.

A Secret Service affidavit charges that Mr. Geisel made the threat during a training class for bail bondsmen in Miami in late July.

According to someone else in the 48-member class, Mr. Geisel allegedly referred to Obama with a racial epithet and continued, "If he gets elected, I'll assassinate him myself."

Mr. Obama was most recently in Florida on Aug. 1-2 but did not visit the South Florida area.

Another person in the class quoted Mr. Geisel as saying that "he hated George W. Bush and that he wanted to put a bullet in the President's head," according to the Secret Service.

Mr. Geisel denied in a written statement to a Secret Service agent that he ever made those threats, and the documents don't indicate that he ever took steps to carry out any assassination.

He was charged only with threatening Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, but not for any threat against President Bush.

Mr. Geisel's court-appointed attorney declined comment.

The charge of threatening a major candidate for president or vice president carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

The Obama campaign declined comment on the alleged threat.

In the interview with a Secret Service agent, Mr. Geisel said "if he wanted to kill Senator Obama he simply would shoot him with a sniper rifle, but then he claimed that he was just joking," according to court documents.

A search of Geisel's 1998 Ford Explorer and hotel room in Miami uncovered a loaded 9mm handgun, knives, dozens of rounds of ammunition including armor-piercing types, body armor, military-style fatigues and a machete.



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