Advance Notice: Briefs

Detroit man sentenced to 5 years probation for threats to Whitmer, Nessel

By: - October 6, 2021 7:23 am

Attorney General Dana Nessel at a press conference on voting, Oct. 28, 2020 | Gov. Whitmer office photo

Robert Tesh, 34, of Detroit was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation and $1,898 in fees after making “credible” death threats against Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Tesh pleaded guilty but mentally ill in August to the Wayne County Circuit Court. As part of his probation, Tesh must participate in mental health treatment where a psychiatric report will be required to be filed every three months until the completion of his probation. Tesh also will not be allowed to own or possess any firearms or weapons. When he was initially charged, he could have faced up to 20 years in prison.

Tesh made the threat on April 14, 2020, while speaking to an acquaintance on a social media messenger app. He was arrested at his home the same day he made the threats and was charged with false report or threat of terrorism. 

Nessel submitted on Tuesday a statement to the court, writing “as a concerned citizen, and a loving wife and mother.” She said the threats made like those made by Tesh have “deeply impacted” her family and left them in a state of fear.

“This is not how it should be,” Nessel said. “The deluge of threats that public officials have faced in the last year is unprecedented and unacceptable. No public official should be frightened of doing their job. I have always supported the public’s right to disagree and voice that disagreement, it’s our First Amendment right as Americans. But when that disagreement crosses the line into a politically-motivated threat of violence, it must be prosecuted.”

Nessel went on to say that threats like those made by Tesh are driving candidates away from public office and rejects that receiving threats should be a common part of public service work. 

“As a public official, I receive death threats on a regular basis,” Nessel said. “However, I fiercely reject the idea that those threats are ‘just part of the job’ of being a public official. No one goes into public service envisioning that death threats will become part of their daily life, and no one should.”  

A judge also has set a March 8 trial date for five men implicated in a right-wing plot to allegedly kidnap and kill Whitmer over her COVID-19 restrictions. The five pleaded not guilty. A sixth man involved, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to over six years in prison and is set to be a witness in the case. 

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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.