Man accused of threatening seven Arkansas mayors released from jail

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A Mineral Springs, Ark., man charged with threatening seven Arkansas mayors was released from custody following a federal detention hearing Monday in Texarkana.

Maverick Dean Bryan, 55, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven with Texarkana lawyer Jeff Harrelson at a hearing to determine if he should remain behind bars while his case moves toward trial. FBI Special Agent Peyton Tucker said Bryan’s handwriting has been matched to the handwritten script in nearly identical letters mailed Jan. 5, 2015, to the mayors of Ashdown, Lewisville, Prescott, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Hope and DeQueen threatening to hang them from a tree if they wouldn’t put prayer and the ten commandments back in public schools and eliminate the common core curriculum.

Tucker said Bryan signed the letters as Lt. Gary Owen, the same name used in a Thrifty Nickel ad recently published soliciting a $23 million loan and volunteers for a Christian militia. Tucker testified under questions from Assistant U.S. Attorney David Harris that an FBI source contacted Bryan through the Thrifty Nickel want ad and met with him in February.

“We wanted to know what his plans were,” Tucker said.

Tucker said Bryan told the FBI source that if the source turned out to be FBI or CIA, “one of them would die that day.” Bryan allegedly told the source that he wants to kill all living U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter in particular, Tucker said.

Tucker said members of the Howard County Sheriff’s Office found the language in the letters similar to that used by Bryan, a local man they’d had dealings with in the past. Bryan is currently serving a term of probation there for being a felon in possession of a firearm for wearing a .44 caliber pistol in a western style holster publicly.

“They told him that he can’t have a firearm as a convicted felon,” Tucker said. “There was a brief stand-off.”

Tucker said that when agents searched Bryan’s house March 18, the day of his arrest on a seven-count federal indictment, they found a 12 gauge shotgun leaning against the door frame of his bedroom and collected various types of ammunition.

Under questioning from Harrelson, Tucker testified that the time frame set for meeting Bryan’s demands in the mayor letters came and went, “and nothing bad happened.”

Federal probation officer Amanda Jordan testified that when she interviewed Bryan for pretrial reasons, he refused to tell her where he worked.

“He said that’s not the government’s business,” Jordan said.

Jordan said Bryan was convicted of interstate motor vehicle theft in 1987 and ordered to pay about $56,000 in restitution. Jordan said she does not know if Bryan paid the money owed to the victim in his first felony case.

Jordan said that Bryan has been arrested twice for illegally possessing guns since his 1987 felony conviction made it against the law for him to do so. Bryan has refused to submit to DNA testing, as all felons in Arkansas are required to do at the time of conviction, and that Bryan doesn’t want officials to speak to his 86-year-old mother.

Under questioning from Harrelson, Bryan promised to appear in court for all hearings and permit officers to visit him at home. Harrelson pointed out that Bryan has complied with probation since his began in 2014.

“I can hang you up in a tree, put a diaper on you and hit you with a switch,” Bryan said when Harris asked him about his threats to hang the mayors. “I never meant no harm to no man.”

Harris asked Bryan if he recalled telling the mayors in his letters that they will surrender their counties to him.

“I just wanted them to think,” Bryan said. “I know they’re too arrogant to act.”

Bryan went on to give the court a somewhat odd description of how he hangs himself with rope from 130 feet tall pine trees.

When Harris pointed out that Bryan possessed the 12 gauge in his home while on probation for a weapons violation, Bryan asked Harris a question.

“Aren’t you gonna ask me if it was loaded,” Bryan asked.

Harris responded, “Was it.”

Bryan said no.

“Them men didn’t have anything to worry about from me,” Bryan said. “I’m an old man.”

Harris asked Bryan as well about intentions he has expressed to go to South America.

“I might leave here on a truck. I might be gone two or three years and you may never see me again,” Bryan said. “I might leave on a canoe. That’s why I’m still single.”

Under questioning from Harrelson, Bryan said he does not have a passport or any other documents that would allow him to leave the U.S. Harrelson argued that Bryan’s statements may be interpreted by others in a way Bryan never intended.

“A lot is put into words that mean different things to different people,” Harrelson said.

After a recess, Craven told Bryan she would let him go on a $10,000 unsecured bond if he agrees to strictly follow her orders. The judge admonished Bryan that he is to be nowhere near a gun, must stay in the federal district where his charges are pending, and must have no contact with any of the mayors he is alleged to have threatened to hang. Craven also told Bryan he must submit to DNA testing if asked to by Arkansas state probation authorities.

Bryan’s case is scheduled for a jury trial in May before U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes in the Texarkana division of the Western District of Arkansas. He faces up to five years in federal prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both, on each of the seven counts if convicted.

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