Two plead not guilty to harassing Palin attorney

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 21, 2011 9:58 PM
Two plead not guilty to harassing Palin attorney

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania father and son pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to federal charges they harassed an attorney for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in phone calls authorities say followed their similar badgering of Palin herself.

Shawn Christy, 19, and his father Craig Christy, 47, entered their pleas during an appearance in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, Alaska.

The two are accused of making hundreds of harassing and threatening calls in early August to Fairbanks attorney John Tiemessen, who represents Palin and her family, and to workers at Tiemessen's law firm.

The calls were laced with profanities, and Shawn Christy also used repeated anti-Semitic slurs, an affidavit filed in the case said.

Shawn and Craig Christy were each charged with a single count of making harassing interstate telephone calls, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, followed by a year of supervised release, Assistant U.S. Attorney Retta-Rae Randall said.

At the hearing on Wednesday, Federal Magistrate Judge Deborah Smith set a trial date of November 21.

The father and son, arrested last month in Pennsylvania, appeared separately in court in yellow jail suits and handcuffs. A hearing to determine potential bail conditions for the two men was set for Monday.

Both men were already the subject of restraining orders issued by a state court over repeated telephone calls that authorities say they made to Palin, her parents and a longtime Wasilla friend, Kristan Cole.

Palin first won a restraining order against Shawn Christy last year. In a court hearing this year, she described the teen as being obsessed with her and said he made sexual threats.

In May, the state court issued a new restraining order against Shawn Christy and a similar order against Craig Christy over calls he made to the Palin camp.

Those orders restricting the pair from contacting Palin, her family and friends remain in effect, Randall said at Wednesday's arraignment.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Cynthia Johnston)