SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of threatening to kill a member of Congress during thousands of phone calls to the U.S. Capitol.
Scott Brian Haven, 54, entered his plea to one count of interstate transmission of threats to injure during an arraignment in a federal courtroom in Salt Lake City. He is being held without bail after a judge previously determined he was a danger to the community.
His attorney Mark Moffat said that label doesn’t seem to fit with the man he has met or how Haven’s wife describes him. Moffat said Haven is a soft-spoken, mild-mannered insurance broker who has lived a crime-free life. Moffat said he’s trying to determine if Haven has any mental health issues or was going through some stressful life situation.
“There’s something gone on and we’re going to try and figure out: Did he make the calls and if he did, what was going on his life? Why were the calls made?”
State online records indicate he has no criminal history.
Haven spoke softly to answer the judge’s questions about whether he understood the proceedings, his hands and feet shackled. As a bailiff escorted Haven out of the courtroom a woman in the gallery said to him, “I love you,” and he repeated those words to her. She declined to comment or give her name outside court.
He was arrested June 4 in his hometown of Kaysville, Utah, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Salt Lake City.
Prosecutors accuse Haven of making more than 2,000 phone calls to Washington offices of unnamed U.S. representatives and senators from 2017-2019. They say Haven often complained about Democrats trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency and threatened to harm politicians.
In one call last month, he called the office of an unnamed U.S. representative and purported to be standing right behind him and ready to “shoot him in the head” because “the Russians want him taken out because he is trying to remove a duly elected President,” according to charging documents unsealed Wednesday.
In other calls, Haven alluded to him and other gun owners taking matters into their own hands, charging documents show.
He told a staffer for an unnamed senator in September 2018 that there were “far more Second Amendment people than whiny, crying liberals,” the documents said.
He called back the next month to the same office and said, “We will exercise our Second Amendment rights to address Democrat mobs that threaten conservatives,” according to the documents.
Haven threatened to cut off the heads of two senators in another call and in yet another identified himself as Hitler and yelled repeatedly he would “put a bullet” in the head of the senator, the documents said.
The names and political affiliations of the lawmakers who were threatened are not included in the charging documents.