Man charged with threatening Nevada election workers’ lives

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2020, file photo, a county worker collects a mail-in ballot in a drop off area at the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas. A 50-year-old Las Vegas man has been charged with threatening the lives of Nevada election workers he blamed for "stealing the election." Gjergi Luke Juncaj pleaded not guilty Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in U.S. District Court. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

By Ken Ritter

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS A Las Vegas man is facing federal charges alleging he threatened the lives of state election workers he blamed for “stealing the election.”

Gjergi Luke Juncaj pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas following his arrest on an indictment stemming from four telephone calls allegedly made in an 18-minute span after 8 a.m. Jan. 7 to the Nevada secretary of state’s office.

The day before the calls, the nation marked the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump and followers of the false claim that the November 2020 election of Democrat Joe Biden had been stolen.

Juncaj’s federal public defender, Aden Kebede, declined to comment on Friday.

The indictment filed Jan. 19 and unsealed Thursday quotes Juncaj as saying, “I want to thank you for such a great job you all did on stealing the election. I hope you all go to jail for treason.” The woman who received the call is identified by initials in the court document.

Juncaj also allegedly said he hoped the worker’s “children get molested,” and said the woman and others in her office “are all going to die.”

The calls stopped after a Nevada State Police officer called back to Juncaj’s number. Juncaj allegedly complained that he was being harassed and disconnected the call, according to the indictment.

“At no time … did Juncaj disclose his identity,” the document said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kenneth Polite told reporters Friday the Nevada case is the second brought by an Election Threats Task Force the Justice Department created last summer.

Polite said the task force has reviewed more than 850 reports of threats to election officials and has dozens of open criminal investigations.

A Justice Department statement about Juncaj’s case said the task force goal is “to ensure that all election workers — whether elected, appointed or volunteer — are able to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation.”

In Texas, Chad Stark, 54, made an initial appearance Jan. 21 in federal court on a charge of communicating interstate threats.

Stark is accused of posting messages on Craigslist urging Georgia residents to “militia up” following the 2020 election and calling for shooting several unnamed officials and local and federal judges in that state.

Prosecutors in Nevada said Juncaj was arrested by FBI agents Wednesday, and that he also uses the names Gjurgi Juncaj and George Juncaj.

A magistrate judge freed him to home detention pending trial, scheduled March 28.