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Amherst Man Alleged to Have Threatened Politicians Who Didn't Back Trump Denied Bail

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An Amherst man accused by federal authorities of leaving threatening voicemails for multiple members of Congress last December is being ordered held in custody pending trial.

Ryder Winegar allegedly left voicemails warning of violence and retaliation for six members of Congress if they didn’t “get behind Donald Trump.”

Winegar also allegedly made homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic remarks in the voicemails, which were traced back to a cell phone registered in his wife’s name.

Winegar requested release pending trial, but a U.S. Magistrate Judge on Thursday denied that motion, writing that he posed both a flight risk and risk to the public.

“The threats at issue here are a brazen attempt to influence elected officials through fear, by a person claiming to be part of a group empowered to assault and kill to effect political ends,” wrote Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone in a 22-page order. “Such threats seek to undermine the rule of law and disrupt the proper functioning of our government.”

U.S. Capitol Police attempted to interview Winegar at his home on December 20. The next day, Winegar flew to Brazil where he claimed he was scouting out potential investment properties. He was arrested at Logan Airport in mid-January upon arrival. 

A search of Winegar’s home on December 22 “discovered a substantial arsenal of weapons and ammunition, including, specifically, a loaded AR-15 rifle (with light armor-piercing ammunition), a loaded shotgun, a loaded 9mm pistol, an unloaded rifle with a scope, several hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and a body armor vest, with clips and Level IV body armor plates,” according to the order.

Winegar served in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged. According to his attorney, he speaks several languages, has no prior criminal record, and serves as primary caregiver to his two young children. 

He faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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