January 8, 2021
LANSING – A man who reportedly threatened to kill a state representative has now been charged with multiple felonies after he allegedly made a threatening phone call Thursday claiming there was a bomb at the Michigan Capitol building. Authorities quickly determined the bomb threat to be false.
Following an investigation and arrest by the Michigan State Police (MSP), Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office has charged a Charlotte man with felony terrorism charges.
Michael Varrone, 48, was arrested outside his residence Thursday afternoon without incident by the MSP Emergency Support Team and Fugitive Team and is currently lodged at the Lansing City Jail.
He was arraigned today before Magistrate Laura Millmore in 54-A District Court in Lansing on two counts of false report or threat of terrorism, a 20-year felony; and one count of false report or threat of bomb/harmful device, a four-year felony. One count of false report or threat of terrorism is related to a phone call Varrone allegedly made in December in which he threatened the life of state Rep. Cynthia Johnson. The other two charges stem from Thursday’s reported bomb threat.
The court set Varrone's bond at $50,000 cash.
“Threats to our democracy must not be tolerated, and my office will work tirelessly to ensure the people who work and visit our Capitol can do so safely,” Nessel said. “I am grateful this incident did not result in any serious injury or harm. However, I hope this incident and the disgraceful tragedy that occurred Wednesday at our nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C., can serve as reminders of the security measures we must work to maintain and improve to protect the sanctity of our democracy and the safety of our people.”
On Dec. 12, Varrone reportedly called the Michigan House of Representatives six times and on at least one occasion threatened the life of Rep. Johnson and her family members, according to the complaint.
Around 6:45 a.m. Thursday, as MSP previously reported, Varrone allegedly telephoned a control operator at the Capitol complex and said everyone needed to evacuate because the building was going to explode. The employee immediately reported the bomb threat to MSP state properties security officers stationed at the Capitol.
Capitol staff were then notified to ensure their safety and the building – which had already been closed to the public – was closed to staff. Authorities performed a sweep of the premises and by 9 a.m. had confirmed there was no real threat.
Varrone has a probable cause conference scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 22 and a preliminary exam scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 28. Both hearings will be before Judge Kristen Simmons. No additional information will be provided at this time.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The Attorney General’s office does not provide mugshots of defendants but one may be provided by the booking agency, the Michigan State Police.