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Detroit Man Sentenced for Threats to Governor, Secretary of State

LANSING – Yesterday, James Toepler, 60, of Detroit, was sentenced to 15 months of probation under a specialized mental health treatment court for threatening to kill multiple elected officials in a phone call to the Detroit Police Department 9-1-1 Call Center, announced Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Toepler pled no contest to one count of Malicious Use of Telecommunications Services in September before Judge E. Lynise Bryant in the 36th District Court in Detroit.  

Toepler placed the call on June 23, 2021. During the call, he threatened to kill Governor Whitmer, Secretary Benson, and others, who were not specified in the call. He is further ordered, as terms of his probation, not to have any contact with the Governor, the Secretary of State, their offices, nor any malicious contact with 9-1-1 emergency response service or Secretary of State branch offices.

“The Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism Unit in my office will diligently prosecute those who attempt to terrorize and intimidate elected officials,” said Nessel. “I appreciate the mental health treatment court’s role in assessing and treating convicted residents who commit crimes from a place of mental unwellness. Specialized courts across the state do an excellent job of providing evidence-based intervention strategies and aim to put offenders on a stable footing to find success post-sentencing."

The specialized mental health treatment court will supervise Toepler’s probation and oversee completion of treatment. Toepler will next report to the mental health treatment court on November 1st where appropriate treatment will be determined.


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