A Cortez man suspected of threatening to kill President Barack Obama appeared Friday in federal court in Durango to be advised of charges against him, the first court appearance in his case.
Wearing shackles and an orange jumpsuit, Timothy Ryan Gutierrez, 20, answered routine questions from La Plata County Judge Martha Minot about whether he understood his rights, the charges against him and possible penalties.
While being advised of his rights, Gutierrez's eyes widened when the judge told him he could be fined up to $250,000. In an interview Thursday with The Cortez Journal, Gutierrez said the e-mails were a prank.
A federal grand jury has charged Gutierrez with two counts: transmission in interstate commerce threats, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; and transmission of threats in interstate commerce to use explosives, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Gutierrez is suspected of sending an e-mail on Jan. 12 from Cortez to the FBI office in Washington, D.C., threatening to harm President-elect Obama. Gutierrez, from Andrews, a city in West Texas, was staying with relatives in Cortez; he is listed as a Cortez resident in the federal indictment.
"I'm going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. PS you have 48 hours to stop it from happening," Gutierrez wrote in the first e-mail, according to the indictment.
In the second e-mail he wrote: "what are you waiting for you have 48 hours remember and one more thing that I have forgotten to mention I have rigged 40 pounds of C4, he and my favorite TNT to 7 cars outside the Mall of America good luck thank you and God bless the you know the rest time is wasting," according to the indictment.
Gutierrez told the Cortez paper he believes Obama misrepresented himself.
"I'm not prejudiced against Obama," Gutierrez said.
"I'm not mad about him becoming president, but he's not doing what he said he was going to do.
"When they knocked on my door, I already knew what I did," Gutierrez said. "They took it seriously. I'm in serious (expletive)."
During his advisement hearing, Gutierrez scanned the courtroom as if looking to see how many people showed up for the hearing. There were about 10 people in the courtroom gallery, mostly courtroom staff members.
None of Gutierrez's family members attended the five-minute hearing.
He will remain in the La Plata County Jail without bail until at least Tuesday, when a detention hearing is scheduled in Durango.
Gutierrez is being represented by Durango lawyer Michael Goldman until his case is transferred to Denver. Goldman was appointed by the court.
Friday's hearing was overseen by Minot at the La Plata County Courthouse because federal Magistrate David L. West - who typically conducts hearings at the federal building in Bodo Industrial Park - was out of town.