A 68-year-old Encino man made his first appearance in a Los Angeles federal court on Thursday afternoon on charges of making violent threats against the Boston Globe.
Judge Paul L. Abrams ordered that Robert D. Chain be released on $50,000 bond. He also ordered Chain to surrender any guns in his possession. Federal agents seized 20 firearms seized during a search of his home Thursday.
Chain is accused of calling the newspaper 14 times between Aug. 10 and Aug. 22 and threatening to shoot employees.
“You’re the enemy of the people and we’re going to kill every f—ing one of you,” he allegedly said in one call, according to an FBI affidavit.
Donald Trump has often used the phrase “enemy of the people” to describe journalists.
The calls began on the day the Globe announced it would urge other media outlets to write their own editorials standing up for freedom of the press. The editorials were published on Aug. 16.
Though Chain’s number was blocked, investigators were able to trace his calls back to his California landline as well as his wife’s cell phone. According to the affidavit, he purchased a 9mm carbine rifle in May 2018.
Chain was arrested at his home on Thursday morning. He faces a maximum sentence of up to five years and a fine of $250,000, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston said in a statement. Chain is expected to be brought to Boston for an arraignment in U.S. District Court at a later date.
U.S. Attorney Matt Rosenbaum argued that Chain should be detained until trial in Boston on the grounds that he is a flight risk, and was found in possession of at least 20 firearms, which were displayed “in plain view” as well as “hidden in a sock drawer in his bedroom.”
Rosenbaum said that the government’s main concern was that he made “very specific threats” which pose a “serious risk of danger to the community.”
Chain’s public defender, Andre Townsend, argued that Chain was not a flight risk seeing that he has not traveled outside the US since the 1980s, and has no prior criminal record of any kind. Townsend insisted that the investigation found no evidence that Chain intended to travel, and maintained that both Chain and his wife Betty, who was also present, were within their right to bear arms.
Responding calmly to Abrams, Chain agreed to the conditions of his bond, which were that he prohibited from contacting victims or witnesses in the case, must not consume any substances besides prescription drugs, and must submit to a mental health evaluation.
Chain waived his right to an identity hearing in California. He must appear in Massachusetts District Court no later than Sept. 24, and is prohibited from coming within 500 feet of the Boston Globe.