Secret Service finds Colorado man's email mentioning Obama, 'overthrow' is protected free speech

Colo. man arrested over threats to state lawmaker

DENVER - The Secret Service says it will not open an investigation after reviewing emails that a Colorado Springs man sent State Rep. Rhonda Fields warning of a government "overthrow" where "many will die" if President Barack Obama and Fields try "to take our guns."

Denver police arrested Franklin Sain, 42, on Feb. 22 for sending six threatening emails and a phone message to Fields, one of the state lawmakers leading the charge on gun control legislation in Colorado. Sain was arrested on investigation of felony attempt to influence a public official and misdemeanor harassment. He is currently free on $30,000 bond.

According to an arrest affidavit, Sain admitted to police that he sent the emails and phone message in which he repeatedly referred to Fields, who is African American, with racist and obscene language. He also called the president a racist slur. 7NEWS partially redacted the offensive language in this story. (Read the emails and letter --http://media.thedenverchannel.com/documents/FranklinSainAffidavit.pdf.)

"I guarantee there is not enough law enforcement, or military to stop an all out overthrow of this government if you or that N***** President tries to take our guns," Said wrote in a Feb. 13 sent to Fields, according to the affidavit.

"Guarantee, we will make world war I and II look like child's play, many will die...be prepared," read the email, sent under the moniker "coffeecountyboy."

Bruce Ward, Special Agent in Charge for the Secret Service in Denver, said on Thursday his office was unaware of Sain's email referring to President Obama until 7NEWS contacted him.

"We are taking a look at it and we will evaluate it," Ward told 7NEWS.

Later in the day, Ward told the Denver Post  the comments made about the president fell within Sain's free speech rights.

"We took a look at the info from the letters Sain had written and that's all," Ward told the newspaper. "We are not a party to the investigation."

Fields, an Aurora Democrat, told police she feared for her life and her daughter's life after receiving the barrage of threatening messages this month. She said she avoided a recent town hall meeting because she did not "want to jeopardize the safety of others by attending the meeting."

In one email, Sain also refers to Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, who is co-sponsoring legislation with Fields to require a universal background check for gun purchases. Fields is sponsoring another bill that would ban high-capacity bullet magazines.

"Hopefully somebody Gifords (sic) your asses with a gun," read the email, referring to former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was badly wounded when a mentally ill gunman opened fire as she met with constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz., in January 2011. Six people died and 12 others were wounded.

Sain, who is chief operating officer for SofTec Solutions Inc. of Englewood, has been suspended by his employer.

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.

During police interviews Sain insisted, "I didn't threaten (Fields)," the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, police suspect Sain also sent Fields an anonymous letter that refers to the lawmaker with the same phrase -- "N***** C***" -- repeatedly used in emails and the phone message. The letter also contains a reference to "30 round magazines" used in Sain's emails.

"I will keep my 30 round magazines. There will be blood! I'm coming for you, N***** Bitch," states the letter, received at Fields' Capitol office on Feb. 21.

The letter names Fields and her daughter and states, "Death to Both. All N****** Back to Africa."

Sain grew increasingly apologetic during conversations with police, the affidavit said.

"I don't use that word when I talk. I'm not a racist. Those emails are not who I am," Sain told a 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 Qusair Mohamedbhai, issued the following statement on Tuesday:

"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."

Fields decided to run for public office after her 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.

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