Franklin Sain, accused of threatening Rep. Rhonda Fields, plans to file a motion to dismiss charges
Chief operating officer arguing free speech
Last Updated: 279 days ago
DENVER - The former executive accused of threatening a Colorado lawmaker informed a judge of his intention to file a motion to dismiss the charges Friday.
Franklin Sain, 42, appeared in court just after 2 p.m. with his attorney for a hearing that lasted just about 2 minutes. Sain didn't speak during that time.
The 42-year-old chief operating officer of Englewood-based SofTec Solutions is accused of sending threatening emails, voicemails and a letter to Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, who is behind some of the gun control legislation being reviewed by the legislature.
Sain was formally charged Monday with a felony charge of attempt to influence a public servant and a misdemeanor charge of harassment-ethnic intimidation.
His attorney, Siddhartha Rathod, waived the formal advisement but also informed the court that they plan to file a motion to dismiss the case "on the grounds that the statutes are an overbroad violation of the first amendment and that both statutes are unconstitutional as applied to the specific facts in the state's case."
Rathod argues the emails are protected by free speech.
"All of Mr Sain's emails and voicemail, while horrific and vile, were not threatening," Rathod said outside the courtroom.
"There was a letter that he allegedly wrote where he said, 'There will be blood, I'm coming for you, death to you both,' is that threatening?" asked 7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson.
"Mr. Sain did not write that letter, he denies writing that letter," Rathod said.
Rathod also asked the judge that he and his client be granted discovery -- the sharing of the district attorney's documents related to the case -- immediately.
The judge "respectfully denied" the request, saying he didn't see any reason in this case to deviate from the standard process.
Prosecutors said the charges allege that between Feb. 13, 2013 and Feb. 21, Sain sent numerous threatening emails and a voice mail message with the intent to alter or affect Fields' opinion or action.
"The charges further allege that the communication was intended to intimidate or harass the victim because of her race," the Denver District Attorney's office said in a news release.
When two Denver police detectives interviewed Sain on Feb. 19 in his office, he admitted he had sent phone messages and emails to Fields, but added: "I didn't threaten her," the affidavit said.
In one message, Sain allegedly told Fields he hoped someone would "Gifords" her, an apparent reference to the shooting and wounding of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Sain also admitted to using profanity and "racist names" in the calls and emails, the affidavit said.
Sain's attorney says the messages were not threats, and are protected by free speech.
According to the affidavit, police suspect Sain also sent Fields an anonymous letter that refers to the lawmaker with the same obscene, racist phrase repeatedly used in emails and phone messages that Sain admitted sending to the lawmaker. The letter also contains a reference to "30 round magazines," a reference used in Sain's emails.
"I will keep my 30 round magazines. There will be blood! I'm coming for you (expletive)," states the letter, received at Fields' Capitol office on Feb. 21.
The letter names Fields and her daughter and states, "Death to Both."
Sain grew increasingly apologetic during follow-up phone calls with a detective, police said.
"I don't use that word when I talk. I'm not a racist. Those emails are not who I am," Sain told the detective during a phone conversation."
Talking about what motivated his phone calls and emails to Fields, Sain told police, "I'm just voicing some frustrations about a topic I consider sacred, especially after wearing a uniform and fighting for this country. When you have media pushing blame on gun owners, that just gets me emotional."
Sain's attorneys, Siddhartha H. Rathod and Mohamedbhai, issued a statement last week that said:
"We are deeply concerned about the government's retaliation against Mr. Sain for his protected First Amendment political speech. We appreciate Representative Rhonda Fields’s service to our community; however, we remind you that Mr. Sain valiantly served his country as a decorated Iraqi war veteran. Representative Fields appears to be furthering her political agenda by trampling on Mr. Sain’s constitutionally protected free speech in order to infringe on all Coloradans’ Second Amendment rights."
Sain is the chief operating officer at SofTec Solutions Inc., an Englewood information technology company that does work for the government and health care companies. The company said on its Facebook page that after his arrest, Sain was suspended.
Then, Friday afternoon, the company posted to Facebook that he'd been fired.
Fields told 7NEWS that she was granted a restraining order against Sain. She added that Sain's weapons permit was revoked because of that order.
Sain is currently out on $30,000 bond.
Fields has sponsored two gun bills this year. One bill requires background checks for all private gun sales. The other measure bans high-capacity bullet clips. Both bills are working their way through the legislative process.
Fields' son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiance, Vivian Wolfe, both 22, died in a hail of gunfire as they drove through an Aurora intersection on June 20, 2005.
The couple was targeted a week before Marshall-Fields was scheduled to testify about a killing he'd witnessed in Aurora. Three men were convicted in the murder of Marshall-Fields and Wolfe.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.