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Accused Terrorist Charged with False Bomb Threat to Michigan Capitol and Death Threat to Lawmaker


Mugshot of Michael Chad Varrone

A man accused of calling in a false bomb threat to the Michigan Capitol and phoning in a death threat to a Black state lawmaker was charged on Friday with multiple terrorism counts.

In the early morning after the U.S. Capitol insurrection, 48-year-old Michael Chad Varrone falsely claimed its Michigan equivalent would blow up, authorities say.

“Everyone better get out of the building because it’ll fucking explode,” Varrone told the Legislative Services Bureau Central Control Operator at the state Capitol, according to the indictment.

Michigan Sgt. William Luebs said that Varrone admitted the call came from his number and nobody else uses it.

“The accused admitted that he is upset with the current political climate and what occurred at the United States Capitol the previous day,” Leubs wrote in an affidavit. “The accused did not recall telephoning the Capitol on January 7, 2021 at 6:44am and stated he sometimes does not recall conversations and events when he first awakens in the morning.”

In the state’s capital of Lansing, Magistrate Laura Millmore arraigned Varrone one two counts of false reports of terrorism and one of false bomb threats, all felonies, and set his bond at $50,000.

“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,” the state’s Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said in a statement. “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.”

One of Varrone’s counts stems from a call he allegedly placed threatening the life of Black state Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D), a little more than a week after Rudy Giuliani held a hearing with his so-called “star witness” Mellissa Carrone airing discredited conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.

Johnson’s tough questioning of the witnesses at that hearing made her a target for right-wing blacklash, rage and racist phone calls, one of which she posted on her Facebook page in December.

On Dec. 12, Varrone allegedly told his state’s Republican Rep. Thomas Albert: “If there is one more threat by a democratic person in Michigan that’s supposed to represent me, I will personally come down there and take over that goddam building at the Capitol.”

“If I’m threatened by another Senator or anybody like Cynthia Johnson, I’ll personally take care of that motherfucker and their whole fucking family, there’ll be no Johnsons left in Michigan,” Varrone is quoted as saying.

Authorities say that Varrone then recited and spelled his name on the message, and he confessed to it while speaking to authorities.

“He admitted to leaving the aforementioned voicemail message to Representative Albert in mid-December 2020. He was upset with public statements Michigan Representative Cynthia Johnson made,” Luebs wrote in his affidavit.

His next hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 22.

Read his charge sheet below:

(Courtesy of Michigan State Police)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."