Charlotte man sentenced to jail for Michigan Capitol bomb threat

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Charlotte man who pleaded guilty to calling in a bomb threat at the Michigan Capitol has been sentenced to a year in jail, investigators announced Wednesday.

Michael Varrone, 49, will be housed at the Ingham County Jail with no possibility of early release, the Michigan Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

A judge also ordered him to serve three years' probation and receive mental health treatment, according to the release.

Michael Varrone

“Threatening the lives and safety of our elected officials and innocent bystanders is deplorable,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “We treat every instance as a serious threat and will prosecute those who perpetrate such crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”

Early last year, Varrone was charged with two counts of false report or threat of terrorism, a 20-year felony, as well as a false report or threat of bomb/harmful device, a four-year felony.

One of the counts was related to a threatening phone call to state Rep. Cynthia Johnson, prosecutors reported.

Authorities allege Varrone called the Michigan House of Representatives six times on Dec. 12, 2020, and on at least one occasion threatened Johnson.   

The Detroit Democrat was outspoken at a hearing days earlier involving Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer of then-President Donald Trump, when he provided testimony and witnesses at a Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing on the presidential election.

Varrone threatened to "take over the (expletive) building" and left his first and last name, spelling his last name, according to an affidavit.

"If I'm threatened by another senator or anybody like Cynthia Johnson, I'll personally take care of that (expletive) and their whole (expletive) family. There'll be no Johnsons left in Michigan," Varrone said, according to the affidavit. 

On Jan. 7, 2021, Varrone called a control operator at the state Capitol complex and said everyone needed to evacuate since it was about to explode, officials said.

The employee immediately reported the bomb threat to Michigan State Police properties security officers stationed at the Capitol. Authorities searched the premises and determined there was no real threat before reopening the site.

The threat came a day after rioters disrupted a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C., to certify Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election.

Varrone told police he was upset with the "current political climate" and the insurrection. 

He was bound over for trial in August and last month pleaded guilty to false report or threat of bomb/harmful device.