The Norman Transcript

State/Region

October 17, 2013

Oklahoma man pleads guilty to threatening president, first lady

TULSA — An Oklahoma man has pleaded guilty to charges that he threatened the president and first lady in telephone calls made to the Secret Service in 2011.

In federal court Tuesday, Mark Dee Gragg, 50, admitted making the calls but said he engaged only in “careless talk.” However, Gragg acknowledged that he never told agents that he was joking or that he intended no harm to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

The Tulsa World reported that Gragg’s hearings were delayed amid questions about Gragg’s competence. A magistrate found Gragg competent at Tuesday’s hearing and set sentencing for Jan. 27.

Documents filed in federal court list no home address for Gragg and a federal law enforcement officer said in an affidavit that Gragg was a transient. Gragg was indicted by a federal grand jury at Tulsa.

Prosecutors said Gragg called the Secret Service outside regular business hours and threatened the president, once leaving a message that referred to “Mr. Dead (expletive) President.” In one call, prosecutors said, Gragg said he would pay $500 for someone to hurt Mrs. Obama.

Prior to sentencing, Gragg will spend time at a rehabilitation facility that handles mental health and substance abuse cases.

Threats are punishable by up to five years in prison, but a federal magistrate said guidelines may suggest a prison term less than the time Gragg will have spent in custody by the time of his sentencing hearing.

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