close
close

Southern California man indicted for allegedly making threats to Georgia prosecutor

ATLANTA – A California man has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Atlanta for sending death threats to District Attorney Fani Willis, who is overseeing the prosecution of former President Donald Trump and 18 others on charges of illegally trying to undo of the 2020 presidential elections. Georgia.

Marc Shultz, 66, of Chula Vista, is charged with distributing interstate threats to injure Willis. Prosecutors alleged that in October 2023, Shultz posted comments on YouTube livestream videos that threatened Willis, including stating that the accuser “will be killed like a dog.”

“Sending death threats to a government official is a criminal offense that will not be tolerated,” Ryan Buchanan, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, said in a statement Friday.

The April 24 indictment was unsealed Thursday. A federal public defender representing Shultz did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

Records show Shultz appeared before a judge in San Diego on Thursday and was released on bail. Buchanan said Shultz would be formally charged in Atlanta in June.

Also Friday, Fulton County leaders testified before a special Senate committee that they had no legal power to audit Willis’ spending or her appointment of former special prosecutor Nathan Wade.

The Republican-led committee is investigating whether Willis hired Wade to lead the team that investigated and charged Trump, lawyers and other aides in the Georgia case. Willis and Wade have acknowledged a romantic relationship with each other.

Trump and some other defendants in the case have sought to remove Willis and her office from the case, saying the relationship with Wade created a conflict of interest.

Wade stepped down from the prosecution after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled in March that there was no conflict of interest that would force Willis off the case. But he ruled that Willis could only continue prosecuting Trump if Wade left. Trump and others are appealing the ruling to a higher state court.

The allegations that Willis had wrongfully profited from her romance with Wade resulted in tumultuous months in the case, as intimate details of Willis and Wade’s personal life were aired in court in mid-February. The serious charges in one of four criminal cases against the Republican former president were largely overshadowed by the prosecutors’ love lives.

Willis told reporters Friday that she had done nothing wrong.

“They can look all they want,” Willis said. ‘The Public Prosecution Service has done everything by the books. We follow the law. I’m sorry that people get angry when everyone in society can be prosecuted.”

Willis is running for re-election this year and will face a Democratic opponent, Christian Wise Smith, in the May 21 primary. The early voting for those elections is underway.

But the attorney who initiated Willis’ ouster, Ashleigh Merchant, has also argued that Wade’s firing violated a state law that required approval of the appointment of a special prosecutor by the county commission.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Rob Pitts, a Democrat, and Fulton County Attorney Soo Jo both told the commission that while the law appears to require county commission approval, judges interpreted the law that way decades ago that Willis is given the freedom to hire whoever she wants to hire. wants without approval. Jo, who represents the commission, cited three separate cases from the Georgia Court of Appeals in support of this point

“What I found is that the court has rejected the contention that this particular statute requires a district attorney to obtain explicit consent from a county before appointing a special assistant district attorney,” Jo said.

Sen. Bill Cowsert, the Athens Republican who chairs the committee, disputed that interpretation when reporters asked about it after the hearing.

“I think the plain language of the statute says that requires county approval, and especially if it’s funded by the county,” Cowsert said.

He further suggested that the commission, which does not have direct power to sanction Willis, could change the law to give counties more control over the spending of public officials funded by counties, including district attorneys and sheriffs. Fulton County officials said they do not believe they currently have control over how Willis spends money once it is appropriated to her.

Cowsert said more county oversight would be “extremely complex” for district attorneys who manage funds contributed by more than one county. While Willis and 15 other Georgia prosecutors only prosecute cases from one county, others prosecute cases from as many as eight counties.

Democratic Sen. Harold Jones II of Augusta said the hours-long questioning over details of how Fulton County budgets money shows the panel is “on its last legs,” noting that three of the six Republicans failed to show up for a committee meeting that would be invested in the short term.

“They’re not even interested in this anymore,” Jones said. “There’s nothing else to talk about, honestly. And we discovered that today.”